Whether articulating an opinion or crying out against injustice, the human voice is one of the most precious things protected by the Bill of Rights. 50 years ago, bands of activists fought for civil rights in the segregated South. Read on to learn about the ACLU of Michigan's link to the Freedom Riders. This week we're hearing opinions on our current cases and honoring those who risked injury for justice.
We talk about our issues and cases so often, it's gratifying to hear from others. Our investigation into whether Michigan State Police are respecting citizen's privacy clearly touched a nerve and generated supportive columns from the Huffington Post and Daily Tribune. The Detroit Free Press also ran an impassioned editorial calling for the end of juvenile life without parole sentences, agreeing with our position that they are cruel and unusual.
With the 50th anniversary of the Freedom Riders on Wednesday, tributes to those brave souls who rode the buses through the segregated South, risking their lives to take a stand for justice. Walter Bergman, a founding member of the ACLU of Michigan, was one of the oldest Freedom Riders, and suffered a paralyzing stroke after being beaten by Ku Klux Klan members. In 1961, the ACLU of Michigan successfully represented Walter and his wife in a lawsuit accusing the FBI of particpating in violent attacks on the Freedom Riders (via the Detroit News and the New York Times).
Students Deserve Education, not Incarceration
Kansas City high school sophomore Jonathan Villarreal was walking to the bus after school when a police officer ordered him to pull his pants up above his hips. Officers attempted to arrest him when he said he didn't have to, tasering him and eventually breaking his arm. This is part of a disturbing national trend called the School-to-Prison Pipeline, where children are pushed out of public schools and into the criminal justice system. The ACLU is working on a nationwide campaign to protect student's rights and prevent over-policing in the classroom (via the Blog of Rights).