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The app, available in both the Google Android and Apple iOS stores, allows users to record law enforcement, to alert other Mobile Justice DC app users to nearby law enforcement encounters, and to submit videos and incident reports automatically to the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital (ACLU-DC). Individuals who believe that they have witnessed a civil rights violation can complete an incident report and send it to the ACLU-DC for review, along with their contact information, for follow-up.
From Rodney King to Eric Garner, to Jason Goolsby, bystander videos have helped draw document police abuse and have led to change. Video can provide strong evidence of police abuse, especially compared to encounters where it is the word of officers against the word of criminal suspects. Even where officers aren’t criminally charged, videos of egregious cases of policing abuse have led to national conversation on issues around use of force and the role of race in policing, and have led to changes in police departments like the adoption of civilian oversight. Mobile Justice DC will make sure that bystander video is preserved even if police attempt to seize the phone or delete the files, and will help ensure video evidence of police abuse gets to the ACLU and civil rights community organizations that can use it to make change.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation's Capital (ACLU-DC), American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland (ACLU-MD), and American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia (ACLU-VA) launched Mobile Justice, a free smart phone app allowing District of Columbia, Maryland, and Virginia residents to automatically record and submit cell phone videos to their local affiliate when they feel law enforcement officers are violating civil rights. The app is available in both English and Spanish.
"The concerns over police practices, including racial profiling and excessive use of force, are very real for communities across the District," said Monica Hopkins-Maxwell, executive director of ACLU-DC. "This app will help serve as a tool of accountability, allowing District residents to record and report any interaction with law enforcement."
ACLU-DC Written Testimony on Bill 21-361, the “Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015”November 12, 2015
Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on Bill 21-361, the “Youth Suicide Prevention and School Climate Survey Act of 2015”. My name is Monica Hopkins-Maxwell and I am Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital (ACLU-DC). I am here today on behalf of our more than 3,000 members across all eight wards in the District of Columbia.
The ACLU-DC supports the intent of Bill 21-361 and commends your leadership on the critical issue of youth suicide prevention. This Committee’s hearing on October 27, 2015, provided a public platform to present powerful statistical and anecdotal evidence about the need for this legislation and the need for continuing training and resources.
ACLU-DC Written Testimony on Bill 21-319, “Assessment on Children of Incarcerated Parents Act of 2015”November 12, 2015
Thank you for the opportunity to present testimony on Bill 21-319, “Assessment on Children of Incarcerated Parents Act of 2015”. My name is Monica Hopkins-Maxwell and I am Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital (ACLU-DC). I am here today on behalf of our more than 3,000 members across all eight wards in the District of Columbia.
The ACLU-DC supports the intent of Bill 21-319 and commends your leadership on the critical need to assess children in District of Columbia Public Schools and Public Charter Schools whose parents are incarcerated, evaluate the impact of parental incarceration on children in school, and to recommend policies that meet the needs of children who are struggling academically while a parent is incarcerated.
On November 4, 2015, we filed an amicus brief in the D.C. Circuit in Yassin Aref v. Loretta Lynch, together with the ACLU's National Prison Project and the Legal Aid Society of the City of New York. The case involves a section of the Prison Litigation Reform Act that bars federal prisoners from suing for damages "for mental or emotional injury suffered while in custody without a prior showing of physical injury ...." The plaintiffs in this case seek damages for violations of their First, Fourth, and Fifth Amendment rights by prison officials, but they were not physically injured. The trial judge dismissed their claims. The federal courts are divided about whether violations of constitutional rights that don't involve physical injury necessarily involve only "mental or emotional injury." The D.C. Circuit has not considered the question. Our brief argues that while constitutional injuries such as denial of free speech or due process may be intangible, that does not mean they are merely emotional, and the plaintiffs should be allowed to go forward and prove their damages.
We represent Amir Meshal, a U.S. citizen who was detained for several months by Kenyan and Ethiopian authorities at the behest of the United States Government. During that time, FBI agents repeatedly removed him from the custody of local officials and interrogated him at the FBI office, but he was never charged with any crime, never brought before a judge, never allowed to see a lawyer, and never allowed to receive U.S. consular assistance. Eventually the FBI gave up trying to get him to confess to things he hadn't done and brought him home to New Jersey. We believe this treatment violated Mr. Meshal’s constitutional rights; our lawsuit seeks compensatory damages on his behalf against four FBI agents who were involved.
The Smithsonian Institution wrote and implemented a lactation policy just weeks after receiving a letter from the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital (ACLU-DC) and the First Shift Justice Project detailing the agency’s failure to provide its employees with adequate space and privacy to pump breast milk at work.
On Wednesday, the Smithsonian responded to the ACLU and First Shift, stating that a new lactation policy had been implemented and that staff had been notified of the policy. The Smithsonian also stated that training in the new policy, as well as the identification of appropriate lactation rooms, will be completed by November 30, 2015.
“We applaud the Smithsonian’s action in response to our letter,” said Jennifer Wedekind, staff attorney, ACLU-DC. “The new policy represents a victory for our clients, and a victory for all working mothers employed by the Smithsonian. However, the work is far from over."