The ACLU-MN is working hard to promote the civil rights and civil liberties of all Minnesotans during the COVID-19 outbreak. We are partnering with other organizations and nonprofits to urge state leaders to protect the most vulnerable people in our communities — particularly immigrants in detention, and adults and youth who are incarcerated. The virus will spread rapidly in such close quarters, endangering inmates, staff and the larger community.
We support public health measures that are recommended by scientists and public health experts, and we believe those measures should not encroach on our civil liberties any more than is absolutely necessary. Here is what we're doing to make sure that our state’s response to COVID-19 is just, equitable, and in keeping with the U.S. and Minnesota Constitutions:
March 6, 2020
- Sent a letter to Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening, urging him to immediately develop an evidence-based, aggressive strategy to prevent and manage COVID-19 in the Nobles County Jail. The ACLU-MN asks him to fulfill his legal and moral duty to protect everyone’s health.
March 18, 2020
- Released a letter to Governor Tim Walz and other officials to take creative and thoughtful action in responding to the Coronavirus crisis to avoid exacerbating long-standing race-based and wealth-based inequalities in our state.
- Wrote a letter to Sherburne County Sheriff Joel Brott urging him to immediately develop an evidence-based, aggressive strategy to prevent and manage COVID-19 in the jail, to fulfill his legal and moral duty to protect those in custody and those who work in the jail.
March 20, 2020:
- Joined more than 100 nonprofits in a letter to Gov. Walz and Lt. Gov. Flanagan, asking them to protect the most financially vulnerable during the COVID-19 outbreak by delaying collection of court debt. We also asked them to help stop the spread of the virus by taking actions such as reinstating driver’s licenses so people can use their own vehicles and minimize the use of public transportation.
March 26, 2020
- Joined the Advocates for Human Rights and other allies in asking ICE’s St. Paul Field Office to take steps to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and to keep people safe . The letter urges ICE to by release immigrants from administrative detention; halt arrests and requests for holds; and stop ICE enforcement.
- Urged the Department of Corrections to publicly report COVID statistics in prisons.
- Sent a letter to state lawmakers asking them to protect the right to a speedy trial. No one should be locked up without due process. That’s one of our most fundamental civil liberties.
March 27, 2020
- Issued a statement in response to Governor Tim Walz's "stay at home" order, providing recommendations for supporting public health and preserving civil liberties for all Minnesotans — and particularly those who may be disproportionately impacted by potential enforcement actions.
March 30, 2020
- Joined the Legal Rights Center in calling on state officials to make sure kids in juvenile detention are safe from COVID-19. The coalition urged state officials to take several steps including: halt new admissions to juvenile detention; release kids whenever possible; continue access to legal counsel; provide education and treatment for children who can’t leave the facilities; and stop sending kids back to detention for technical violations.
March 31, 2020
- Sent a letter to the Sixth Judicial District Chief Judge acknowledging the positive steps already taken toward decreasing inmate populations, and asking the Court to take additional steps to release more people from correctional facilities to keep people and our communities safe.
April 1, 2020
Joined the Asian American Organizing Project and 26 Asian Minnesotan organizations in condemning all acts of harassment, discrimination and bias against our Asian community. Terrible stories of racism and violent acts of bigotry against the Asian community have risen following the outbreak of COVID-19, leaving our community members worried about their safety.
Released a statement in response to the establishment of a "hotline" for reporting violations of Governor Walz's stay at home order. We have concerns that use of this hotline will reflect and potentially amplify racial disparities that already exist in 911 calls, traffic enforcement, and enforcement of low-level violations that often occur in public areas. That's why we continue to urge voluntary compliance with the order rather than criminal enforcement.