Monday, February 11, 2008

National Director of the ACLU speaks to students, Eau Claire community members

As a part of The Forum series through the UW-Eau Claire student Activities and Programs office, national ACLU Director Anthony Romero spoke to students and community members about leadership in difficult times on Thursday, February 7.

The topics Romero covered were many, but below are some links to some of the things he discussed. Be sure to explore the pages for ways to take action!

Real ID: or take action by telling the government directly that you think Real ID is a real nightmare.

Voting Rights: ACLU voting rights page, includes information on restoring the vote to the formerly incarcerated. Find out more about the Restore the Vote coalition in Wisconsin by visiting the new ACLU of Wisconsin voting rights page or stay up to date on the Restore the Vote blog.

Close Guantanamo: Learn more about the past six years of detention without trial. Take action with this activist's toolkit.

Romero's book - In Defense of Our America: Get the book online at the ACLU store.

Eau Claire's Leader-Telegram covered the event and posted a review article on-line. The article says that Romero's only applause line was his observation that the Bush administration's days are numbered. I don't think the lack of applause lines were because the audience was asleep or in disagreement with Romero. In fact, the audience as a whole seemed intensely riveted to what he was saying and I didn't get any negative feedback at the ACLU table after the event.

It is also worth noting that in the comments section of the on-line article, the "ICEman's" disagreement with how the ACLU challenges the federal government's discrimination and detention of undocumented immigrants is not uncommon. What the ICEman doesn't understand is that the Constitution says that "people" have basic human rights. People in America have the right to peaceably assemble, practice their religion and freedom of speech. People have the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. People have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure. The Constitution's words protect people, not just citizens. Immigration is a civil issue, not a criminal one no matter what Lou Dobbs or Bill O'Reily scream on their nightly news. If the ICEman understood more about how racial profiling impacts citizens or if he had a better understanding of the conditions in detention facilities like Hutto, maybe he would be more inclined to tape up his torn ACLU card.

Special thanks to Mildred and Brian Larson who hosted the pre-lecture reception for Romero. It was a great opportunity for folks to meet him and to hear more details about the current work of the ACLU to restore the rule of law.

ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Office Community Advocate Stacy Harbaugh and Eau Claire Chapter President Jeremy Gragert welcome both new and veteran card-carrying members at the ACLU table outside of the event.

** All photos taken by S. Harbaugh (except for the last one - thanks to the Eau Claire student who snapped this photo!)