DETROIT – The U.S. Court of Appeals will hear two cases this week that were filed by the ACLU of Michigan. On Tuesday, the ACLU-M will argue on behalf of the plaintiffs in a racial profiling lawsuit known as “Bicycling While Black” filed against the City of Eastpointe. On Wednesday, the Court will hear a case filed against the City of Dearborn challenging the constitutionality of a city ordinance that makes it a crime to engage in a public protest unless a permit is obtained at least 30 days before the event.
The ACLU-M filed the “Bicycling While Black” case in April 2001 on behalf of 21 young African-American men against Eastpointe officials and police officers. The legal challenge to the racial profiling practice began after the Eastpointe police chief stated, in a 1996 memorandum, that he instructed his officers to investigate any black youths riding through Eastpointe, a predominantly white city. The children represented were pulled over, questioned, searched and some of their bikes confiscated and sold.
The ACLU-M filed the challenge to the 30 day ordinance requirement against Dearborn in January 2003 after protesters were ticketed at a rally in Dearborn for participating in a march without a permit, a crime punishable by up to 90 days in prison and a $500 fine. The 30 day requirement makes it impossible to hold even a peaceful demonstration and effectively influence imminent public policy. According to the ACLU brief, the intention of the ordinance was to discourage gatherings of the Arab community specifically. The ACLU-M represents the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC), a national civil rights organization with offices in Dearborn, and Imad Chammout, a Dearborn resident and business owner.
Judges Bryce Martin, Donald Lay and Deborah Cook will hear arguments in both cases. The Bicycling While Black case will be argued by ACLU volunteer attorney Mark Finnegan on Tuesday, April 19 at 9:30 a.m. The Dearborn 30-Day Rule will be argued by ACLU volunteer attorney Bill Wertheimer on Wednesday, April 20 at 1:30.
To read the appeal brief in the “Bicycling While Black” case, go to: www.aclumich.org/pdf/briefs/bicyclingwhileblackappealbrief.pdf
To read the appeal brief in the Dearborn case, go to: www.aclumich.org/pdf/briefs/dearborn30dayappealbrief.pdf
To read Dearborn’s brief, go to: www.aclumich.org/pdf/briefs/dearborn’sbrief.pdf
To read the ACLU reply brief, go to: www.aclumich.org/pdf/briefs/dearbornaclureply.pdf