Right now, we are living in unprecedented times. It would be easy to give into fear and helplessness, not to mention go a little stir crazy. But a great way to battle the uncertainty – and cabin fever -- is to get involved in the fight for civil liberties, even while you’re stuck inside.
We have a lot of work to do, including reducing mass incarceration, ending the dangerous and cruel tactics used by ICE, and reforming unfair and restrictive voting laws, all of which threaten the most vulnerable people in our communities.
The work toward equality and fairness cannot stop because many of our lives are, for the most part, moving indoors. Fortunately, we don't need a march or a rally in order to engage in advocacy. We can find strength in ourselves and each other, and in turn, work to strengthen our communities.
STRATEGIES FOR ENGAGING IN ADVOCACY AT HOME
CO-SIGN OUR LETTER TO GOV. TIM WALZ
The COVID-19 outbreak hasn't caused the ACLU-MN to shift its focus. It has only made our work — and our priority issues — that much more urgent. On March 18, 2020, we sent a letter to Gov. Tim Walz, Attorney General Keith Ellison and other elected leaders asking them to respect the rights and protect the health of all Minnesotans by:
- Limiting arrests to only the most serious offenses.
- Releasing people who are in jail simply because they can’t afford to post bail.
- Recognizing at-risk people should not be in jail, absent extraordinary circumstances.
You can help now by adding your name to the letter: https://action.aclu.org/petition/mn-covid-19-recommendations.
CALL COUNTY SHERIFFS
County jails are hotspots for COVID-19. Infections can spread like wildfire, conditions are often unsanitary, and people cycle in and out of them on a regular basis. It is difficult or impossible for people to protect themselves from infection. While we’ve seen some promising decreases in the arrests of citizens, county jails in Minnesota continue to detain hundreds of immigrants on behalf of Immigration & Customs Enforcement.
Call county sheriffs whose jails also house ICE detainees, and ask them to release immigrants from detention in Minnesota county jails, starting with the most at-risk.
CHECK YOUR VOTER REGISTRATION
The presidential primary has already occurred in Minnesota, but Election Day (Nov. 3, 2020) will be here before you know it. Double-check whether you're registered by visiting the Voter Information Portal, courtesy of the Minnesota Secretary of State. Not registered yet? No need to worry! You can register to vote online.
We’re fortunate that Minnesota already allows us to vote by mail, with no excuse required. To learn more about how to vote early by mail, visit: https://www.sos.state.mn.us/elections-voting/other-ways-to-vote/vote-early-by-mail/
FILL OUT YOUR CENSUS FORM
If you or your neighbors aren’t counted, your community will have less representation in government and receive fewer resources. When everybody participates in the census , it makes for a healthier democracy. That's why the ACLU fought hard to make sure that a citizenship question, which would have suppressed responses and skewed counts, is not on the census.
Most people will receive census form via mail. But whether or not you receive a census form in your mailbox, you can complete the census form online. If you have questions about the census, check out the ACLU's "Census 2020: What You Need to Know."
CONTACT OFFICIALS AND URGE THEM TO ACT
Contact your elected officials directly to urge them to reduce the number of people incarcerated across the state. We know that jails and prisons are especially vulnerable to outbreak, which means that people who are incarcerated are at extreme risk of illness and death. We cannot allow these threats to go unchecked — we need to decarcerate now.
If your work is not considered essential, the most basic and supportive thing you can do right now is to stay home.
When it is necessary to go out (i.e. to the grocery store or to a medical appointment), maintain 6 feet of distance between yourself and all other people. This helps keep you safe, it helps keep your friends and family safe, and it helps reduce the burden on healthcare providers and workers.
CHAT WITH PEOPLE IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Right now, everyone might be seqestered in their houses, but that doesn’t mean planning for the future is out of the question. Set up a time to chat with your friends, neighbors or colleagues and formulate a plan of attack for what you can do now, and what you can do later when it’s safe to congregate again. Sign up for a free Zoom account.
SEND MESSAGES OF SUPPORT
Do you know a grocery store clerk working feverishly to keep our families fed? A nurse or healthcare worker who is sacrificing their safety to treat the sick? A server or retail worker who has recently lost their job? They need your support right now. Write them a thoughtful email or text message, letting them know that you're grateful for them. If you don't know anyone directly impacted by the crisis, post messages of support and appreciation on social media.
PROVIDE A HOT MEAL
Healthcare workers, grocery store clerks, and all others who are classified as "essential" are working long hours at great risk, and we can support them by making sure they are fed and cared for at the end of their days. In many areas of the state, you can pick up a meal from a local restaurants and deliver it (or have it delivered) to your loved one's doorstep. If you are healthy, it is also still safe to prepare food for others, following regular food safety guidelines.
Just remember, when delivering food to your loved one, maintain six feet of separation at all times by leaving the meal on their doorstep. Make sure you ask delivery drivers to do the same.
TAKE A BREAK
Remember to take care of yourself and stay charged. That means taking a break from the news when you need to and spending quality time with the people who are stuck inside with you.