Join us for the 2014 Annual Bill of Rights Awards Dinner: April 23, 2014

March 26, 2014

Please join us as we honor leaders in the fight for privacy and lawyers who successfully defended civil liberties in DC. Click the image below to download the full invitation to the Bill of Rights Dinner.  Click here to download the form to purchase tickets to the dinner and support the ACLU of the Nation's Capital. 

BOR Dinner

BOR Dinner Details

BOR Dinner

click to view the full invitation

click to purchase

In Nation's Capital, Mayor Signs Marijuana Decriminalization Bill Aimed at Racial Justice

March 31, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON, DC – Today Mayor Vincent Gray of the District of Columbia signed a bill that would remove all criminal penalties from the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. The legislation would make such possession a civil offense punishable by a $25 fine and require the forfeiture of the drug and any paraphernalia connected to personal consumption or transport. This bill is the first decriminalization measure in the United States that targets racial profiling; it explicitly prohibits police from using the smell of marijuana as a pretext for stopping and searching someone. It now awaits approval from Congress before becoming law.

"This historic legislation exists because DC residents and their leaders decided to change an ugly reality: Black people are stopped, searched, and arrested under marijuana prohibition far more than whites, when both groups use the drug at similar rates," said Seema Sadanandan, Program Director at the ACLU of the Nation's Capital.

Last July, the ACLU and the ACLU of the Nation’s Capital released The War on Marijuana in Black and White, which found that Black people in the District are eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than whites.

Sadanandan continued, "I’ve talked to hundreds of people in the District’s Black and brown communities who have been stopped and searched because police officers claimed they smelled marijuana, only to find no evidence of the drug whatsoever. Children on their way home from school, parents on their way to work—marijuana odor has become the flimsy excuse for treating people of color like criminals. With this decriminalization legislation, we will take a critical step toward ending the racial profiling of entire communities."

The ACLU report, along with research by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs, helped focus the public’s attention on marijuana reform as a tool for racial justice. The District of Columbia City Council drafted and passed the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 (Council Bill 20-409), the legislation signed today by Mayor Gray.

The ACLU and the ACLU of the Nation's Capital are grateful to Councilmember Tommy Wells and the other city council members for their work on this important bill.

First Amendment Rights on Display with the ACLU-NCA

March 26, 2014

Woolly Mammoth Theater invites ACLU-NCA to a unique evening of theater on April 11.  The Elevator Repair Service (a New York-based theater ensemble) brings to the stage the complete oral argument from the U.S. Supreme Court in Barnes v. Glen Theatre.  At issue:  Whether nude erotic dancing is expression protected by the First Amendment.  A limited New York run last September won praise from reviewers.

Onstage immediately following the performance ACLU-NCA Legal Director Art Spitzer and academic expert and former ACLU client Judith Lynne Hanna, Ph.D. (author of Naked Truths: Strip Clubs, Democracy, and a Christian Right), will discuss the facts and issues of the case, with questions from the audience.  ACLU Board member John Davis Malloy will be the moderator. ACLU supporters are invited afterward to a private reception to continue the conversation with Art, Judy, each other - - and maybe meet the artists. (Food and beverages will be available for purchase.) 

ACLU supporters may purchase tickets at a special discount rate of $40 for any seat (including all processing fees) using the code "ACLU." (The regular total price is up to $76.50.)  Reserve seats online or, call the Woolly Mammoth Theater box office directly at (202) 393-3939 and press “0” for information and reservations.  Woolly Mammoth Theater box office is open from 10am to 6pm Mon-Fri.  This will be the hot ticket in town for April. Join us before word spreads!

D.C. Passes Marijuana Decriminalization as Step Toward Racial Justice

March 05, 2014

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: 212-549-2666, media@aclu.org

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the District of Columbia City Council passed legislation to remove criminal penalties from the possession of marijuana in amounts of one ounce or less. The bill would treat such possession as a civil offense, and awaits approval by Mayor Vincent Gray and then Congress. The vote was 10 to 1 with one abstention.

"This vote is proof: The people of Washington, DC, are tired of living in a city where a Black person is eight times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than a white person, despite similar rates of use," said Seema Sadanandan, Program Director at the ACLU of the Nation's Capital. "This legislation is a victory for racial justice — a crucial step towards eliminating racial profiling in the enforcement of drug laws and the disproportionate punishments suffered by people of color in this city."

Racial justice was at the forefront of the public debate leading up to today's victory, particularly the severe racial disparities in arrests in the District for marijuana possession revealed by The War on Marijuana in Black and White, a report released last June by the ACLU, and findings in Racial Disparities in Arrests in the District of Columbia, 2009-2011, issued in July by the Washington Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights and Urban Affairs.

Ezekiel Edwards, Director of the ACLU's Criminal Law Reform Project, commented, "With its decriminalization bill, Washington, DC, joins the ever-growing number of cities and states enacting marijuana reform. We look forward to the day when the whole country has rejected marijuana prohibition and the unfair burdens it places on people of color."

Under the Marijuana Possession Decriminalization Amendment Act of 2014 (Council Bill 20-409), police would fine a person $25 for possessing an ounce or less of marijuana, while also requiring forfeiture of the marijuana and any paraphernalia connected to personal consumption or transport.

 

The ACLU and the ACLU of the Nation's Capital are grateful to Councilmember Tommy Wells and the other city council members for their work on this important bill.

Save the Date: DC Mayoral Forum

February 26, 2014

ACLU Mayoral Forum Flyer Race Policing and Criminal Justice

Civil Liberties and ACLU-NCA in the Spotlight

December 19, 2013

Our Suburb

Join the American Civil Liberties Union of the Nation’s Capital for two upcoming theatrical productions, Our Suburb and Arguendo, in which civil liberties take center stage. ACLU staff and board members will participate in panel discussions following select performances of each play.

The world premiere of Our Suburb by Darrah Cloud invites audiences to suburban Illinois in 1977, when the Nazis threatened to rally in Skokie. As two families prepare for Christmas and Hanukkah, two teenagers fall into an interfaith romance, and find themselves absorbed in a growing menace that turns to heartbreak, headlines, and then, magically, new hope, in this whimsical, innovative update of an American classic. The play runs from December 19, 2013 to January 12, 2014 at Theater J.

In March 2014, the Wooly Mammoth Theater will premier Arguendo, bringing a playful physicality and incisive wit to the Supreme Court and the 1991 First Amendment case Barnes vs. Glen Theatre, in which a group of go-go dancers challenged a state ban on public nudity.

ACLU of the Nation’s Capital and Washington Lawyers’ Committee Partner in Efforts to Decriminalize Marijuana

November 22, 2013

In D.C. 9 out of 10 drug arrestees are Black, even though only about half of its population is Black and Black and white people use drugs at a comparable rate. Decriminalization of marijuana could help to reduce these disparities. A supermajority of the D.C. Council and the mayor are poised to approve a bill that would decriminalize possession of marijuana and that bill is on the fast track. “The new sense of urgency has been fueled in part by two studies released this year that found large racial disparities in marijuana arrests in the city. Blacks were eight times more likely to be arrested than whites in the district in 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union found, and 91 percent of those arrested that year were black. About half of the city's 632,000 residents are African-American.” - Ben Nuckols of Yahoo News 


School-to-Prison Pipeline, ACLU works to break the cycle

November 21, 2013

The “school-to-prison pipeline” refers to the policies and practices that push our nation’s schoolchildren, especially our most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile and criminal justice systems.  This pipeline reflects the prioritization of incarceration over education.

school-to-prison

 

Are you a studen attending a DC public school who needs help? Contact SRA.

Stop Watching Us Coalition

November 21, 2013

In the wake of the 12th anniversary of the Patriot Act, Stop Watching Us Coalition successfully held the largest protests against mass surveillance in U.S. history.

NSA unchained

ACLU of the Nation's Capital 2014 Summer Law Fellowship

October 30, 2013

The ACLU of the Nation's Capital seeks two law fellows for Summer 2014. The summer law fellows at the ACLU gain a comprehensive introduction to the legal work of one of the nation’s major advocacy organizations.  Duties include legal and factual research, contact with current and potential clients, drafting of memoranda, pleadings, and motions, and testimony regarding proposed legislation before the Council of the District of Columbia.  When possible, law fellows attend trial or appellate proceedings involving staff or volunteer attorneys, as well as depositions, administrative hearings, other related court events, and legislative hearings.  

Without you, the ACLU
cannot survive and grow.

Protect the future
of civil liberties...

DONATE TO THE ACLU NEXT >