Monday, July 21, 2008

More legal observer trainings scheduled, attitudes about race and the election and more

Here's the news round up for today and an announcement about a great opportunity to volunteer for the ACLU and have a direct impact on civil liberties in Madison.

Protest Rights/Free Speech
Reminder: the next ACLU of Wisconsin Madison Area Legal Observer training is coming up on Thursday!

These free workshops are for anyone who wants to defend free speech and assembly by becoming a volunteer legal observer for the ACLU of Wisconsin. Volunteers only have to participate in one workshop to be trained. Bilingual volunteers are especially encouraged to get involved.

Thursday, July 24th - 6-8pm; Madison Public Library, Central (downtown) location, 2nd floor, room 202

Monday, August 18th - 6-8pm; Madison Public Library, Central (downtown) location, 2nd floor, room 204

RSVPs required: email or call (608) 469-5540 if you plan on attending a workshop. Please forward this announcement to friends who are also interested in supporting everyone’s right (even if not always the content) of people’s right to freedom of speech, assembly and protest.

What Are Legal Observers?
Legal Observers are trained volunteers who are legal witnesses to political demonstrations and who document the events of public protests, including any incidents of police misconduct or violations of the rights of protesters. Legal Observers are committed to defending free speech in a way that is as objective as possible so that their documentation of public protests can be used as evidence if police misconduct or obstructions to Constitutionally-protected free speech are challenged in court. As a Legal Observer, volunteers can commit to being among others who are free speech defenders, but also aren’t expected to be at every rally – volunteers pick which protests to observe with neutrality and can choose not to volunteer at protests where they wish to be participants.

Speaking of protest...
Did anyone catch the Madtown Liberty Players at the Farmers Market this weekend? They did a skit on wiretapping which has been recently amended: the updated skit shows the now-legal wiretapping occurring with the aid of a democratic donkey.

In the skit, a puppet representing a spying Bush eavesdrops on Franklin and Jefferson's communications about how people who give up some liberty for a little security deserve neither.

Sadly, the street theater skit is more relevant than ever.

Immigrant Rights
Here is an interesting LA Times feature about the anxiety undocumented students feel about getting their education, but remaining "illegal" after they graduate. Courts ruled that public schools can offer education to children of undocumented immigrants (and recent grants such as the ones to the Wisconsin Department of PUblic Instruction go to teaching English and culture to immigrant children), but higher education continues to be either a haven or out of reach.

Racial Justice
If anyone still doubts that race will play a factor in the 2008 elections, check out this story about the results of a UW-Madison PolySci/WisPolitics poll. Note that the respondents to the survey were mostly white making it more of an example about the motivations they feel on the issue, rather than the opinions of people of color in Wisconsin as they look to November.

Voting Rights
WI statewide voter database is still working out kinks. The expensive Accenture database is supposed to be a system to ensure that properly registered voters are identified at the polls, but flaws in the system still exist and the potential for non-matches can be connected to common errors. All the more reason to register early and get a confirmation before you get to the polls.