American Civil Liberties Union

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The recent videos of African American men dying at the hands of police officers have spurred legislative efforts at police reform on the national and state levels. Delmarva Public Media's Don Rush talked with Haneef Salaam, the American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware's manager of the Campaign for Smart Justice, who says that there needs to be new civilian oversight and a reorientation of law enforcement. (Part 2)

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The numerous videos of police abuse have led to police reform efforts at both the national and state level. Delmarva Public Media's Don  Rush talked with Haneef Salaam, American Civil Liberties Union of Delaware manager of the Campaign for Smart Justice, about those efforts beginning with his own recent encounter with the police. (Part 1)  


RICHMOND, Va. (AP) — Advocates dressed in black stood Wednesday at the base of the Virginia Civil Rights Memorial to voice their support of marijuana legalization, repeating a variation of, “the time is now,” in each of their statements. 

The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia, along with Marijuana Justice and RISE for Youth, a campaign committed to promoting alternatives to youth incarceration, held a press conference promoting House Bill 1507, patroned by Del. Jennifer Carroll Foy, D-Prince William.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - As former Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe travels the country promoting his new book about a deadly white nationalist rally, others involved in the mayhem nearly two years ago are pushing back at his characterization of the events.

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BALTIMORE (AP) - The union representing Baltimore police is drawing criticism after a comment on social media which described some youths as "criminals" following arrests at the Inner Harbor.

The Baltimore Sun reports the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 3 wrote on Twitter on Saturday that while some officers were responding to a crowd of rowdy young people, officers should "Protect each other and don't fall into the trap they are only kids," adding that "Some are criminals!"

Police said six people were arrested, but no injuries were reported.

State of Delaware

RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia has filed a federal lawsuit seeking to end the use of solitary confinement at two of the state's toughest prisons.

The lawsuit filed Monday alleges that inmates held in solitary confinement for extended periods of time at the Red Onion and Wallens Ridge prisons have suffered "severe physical and mental health damage."

Both Red Onion and Wallens Ridge are super maximum-security prisons in the southwest corner of Virginia.

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Criminal justice advocates want an investigation in the medical treatment in Delaware prisons.

It involves a $60 million contract with Connections Community Support Services.

State Representative Melissa Minor-Brown who chairs to House Corrections Committee told the Wilmington News Journal that the non-profit needs to demonstrate that it is doing its job.  

The move comes after the paper ran a story on the death of 40-year old James Daniels an inmate at the Sussex Corrections Center.

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GREENSBORO, Md. (AP) - The police chief of a small town on Maryland's Eastern Shore where an African American teenager died in custody is stepping down, but he says his departure isn't connected to the case that fueled an outcry.

The Baltimore Sun reports Mike Petyo's last day in Greensboro was Thursday. Greensboro is where 19-year-old Anton Black died in September, following a police chase and struggle with officers.

A county prosecutor declined to pursue criminal charges. A state autopsy concluded a heart condition and stress contributed to Black's death.

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WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - The city of Wilmington, Delaware, is set to settle a lawsuit alleging it allowed the arrest of people without probable cause.

The Wilmington News Journal reported Wednesday that court documents filed last month announce a $500,000 settlement has been reached in the 2013 civil rights lawsuit against the city and department. The lawsuit and its settlement still need to be approved by a federal judge.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland prison officials have announced the end of a new policy that restricts inmates' access to books.

The Daily Record of Baltimore reports the Monday announcement comes less than two weeks after the state's American Civil Liberties Union called for the policy to be scrapped. The organization previously threatened a lawsuit if the policy wasn't rescinded by Monday. It will be revised to increase the screening process for books received through the mail.

Salisbury Police Website

SALISBURY, Md. (AP) - A judge on Maryland's Eastern Shore has rejected a city's request to dismiss a lawsuit seeking records about a legal settlement over excessive force accusations against a police officer.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the Baltimore-based Real News Network filed the lawsuit against the city of Salisbury under the state's Public Information Act.

In 2016 the city settled a lawsuit filed by four Salisbury University students against an officer in the city's police department. Details of the settlement were never released.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union says it has reached a settlement with officials of a southern Delaware town in a lawsuit over its restrictions on political signs.

The ACLU sued the town of Milton in May on behalf of a retired schoolteacher who had posted four signs on her property after the November 2016 elections with messages including "Love Trumps Hate" and "Women's Rights Human Rights."

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A decision to resume recreational time for the inmates of the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center has some prison guards concerned there may not be enough staff to handle the activity.

The inmates at the maximum security prison would have 17 and a-half hours a week.

The policy is part of a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union and the Community Legal Aid Society of Delaware.

But it was suspended following the prison uprising earlier this year that resulted in the death of prison guard Steven Floyd.


NEW YORK (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union is reeling from criticism inside and out for defending the right of white supremacists to march in Charlottesville, Virginia.

After the death of a counter-protester at the rally, some critics said the ACLU had blood on its hands, and a leader of the organization in Virginia resigned.

The furor has set off soul-searching inside the ACLU and an announcement that it will no longer stand with hate groups seeking to march with guns.

Don Rush

A group of civic organizations is urging a Delaware state taskforce to speed up its decision on which new voting machines will be used in the future.

The coalition including the American Civil Liberties Union, the League of Women Voters and the Sierra Club.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the state legislature has provided $15 to $20 million in funding for the new equipment in next year’s budget.

The First State began using voting machines in the mid- 1990’s and are among the oldest in the country.

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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - The organizer of a weekend rally that's expected to draw hundreds of "alt-right" activists and white nationalists is suing a Virginia city over its decision to relocate the event.

Attorneys for right-wing blogger Jason Kessler filed the federal lawsuit Thursday against Charlottesville.

The city says Kessler's Saturday event can't take place in its downtown Emancipation Park. Citing safety considerations, they ordered it moved to a park about a mile away.


CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (AP) - The American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and other groups are asking Gov. Terry McAuliffe to investigate police's response when protesters gathered in Charlottesville to condemn a Ku Klux Klan rally.

The ACLU, Legal Aid Justice Center, Rutherford Institute and National Lawyers Guild Central Virginia Chapter sent a letter to McAuliffe this week criticizing what they called the "outsized and militaristic" police presence to the July 8 protest.

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The battle over political signs in Milton will be decided in the courts.

The American Civil Liberties Union said that the removal of four signs critical of the Trump administration from the property of 62-year old Penny Nickerson was unconstitutional.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the city has responded saying that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that municipalities may impose the reasonable regulation of signs as necessary.

It adds that the regulations do not discriminate on the basis of political points of view.    

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - Federal officials are opening an investigation into accusations that public schools in Virginia's capital city more frequently and more harshly punish black students and those with disabilities than their classmates.

The Department of Education's Office For Civil Rights said in a letter this month that it's opening an investigation into the complaint filed in August by the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia and Legal Aid Justice Center.

Correctional Officers Association of Delaware

The correctional officers union in Delaware has issued a set of demand as it begins contract negotiations.

The union wants an end to the agreement between the Department of Correction and the American Civil Liberties Union that it says led to the death of Officer Steven Floyd during inmate upraising at the Vaughn Correctional Center.  

WBOC reports that the union said that mental health requirements led to dangerous inmates being placed in lower security facilities.

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GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - A Maryland judge is scheduled to hold a hearing on a lawsuit stemming from President Donald Trump's travel ban.

Several individuals and groups including the American Civil Liberties Union originally filed the lawsuit in February over the initial ban, which was blocked in court and later revised. On Wednesday, the groups will be asking a Maryland judge to issue an order that would keep the revised ban from taking effect. It's scheduled to take effect Thursday.

A federal judge in Hawaii has also scheduled a hearing Wednesday on the revised ban.


During a Delaware Senate panel hearing correctional officers told lawmakers that staff were so outnumbered many of the inmates have unprecedented power.

The Wilmington News Journal reports that the officers said this power contributed to the 18 hour hostage standoff that resulted in the death of Officer Steve Floyd.

Officer Aaron Forkum described the situation as “a three ring circus” at the James T. Vaughn Correctional Center where the uprising took place.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - A measure before Maryland lawmakers would end the requirement for the governor to approve parole for someone serving a life sentence, after the Maryland Parole Commission has recommended the person be paroled.

Supporters are holding a news conference on Tuesday to talk about the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the Maryland Restorative Justice Initiative are supporting the measure.

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GREENBELT, Md. (AP) - A Maryland lawsuit is challenging President Donald Trump's travel ban.

The lawsuit was filed Tuesday in federal court in Maryland by the American Civil Liberties Union, ACLU of Maryland, and National Immigration Law Center.

The groups argue that the executive order violates federal laws and the Constitution, saying it was "substantially motivated" by an intent to discriminate against Muslims. Plaintiffs include U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents from countries named by the ban.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Civil rights advocates will be speaking in favor of a measure in Maryland designed to increase transparency in police misconduct investigations.

The American Civil Liberties of Maryland will gather Wednesday in Annapolis, along with several other groups.

They will be joined by Del. Erek Barron and Sen. Joan Carter Conway, who are sponsoring the legislation.

Red Clay Consolidated School District

WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) - A judge is set to being hearing testimony in a lawsuit over a disputed New Castle County school district tax referendum.

The trial beginning Monday involves a 2015 referendum approved by residents of the Red Clay Consolidated School District.

The American Civil Liberties Union sued on behalf of a district resident and her elderly parents who opposed the tax increase but say they were unable to gain access to the polls.

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - Maryland public defenders and the ACLU of Maryland are calling for laws to regulate police surveillance techniques out of privacy concerns, but authorities say the technology is needed to better fight crime.

The Maryland House Judiciary Committee held a hearing Tuesday on the use of techniques such as clandestine cellphone-surveillance devices, known as stingrays.

Daniel Kobrin, an assistant public defender in the appellate division, says comprehensive legislation is needed to define when such technology can and can't be used.

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DOVER, Del. (AP) - Delaware prison officials have reached a tentative settlement in a federal lawsuit alleging that mentally ill prisoners have been subjected to solitary confinement without proper evaluation, monitoring and treatment.

As part of the settlement, the Department of Correction has agreed to undertake steps to better classify, track and care for prisoners with mental health issues and in restrictive housing. Prison officials also have agreed to create a special needs unit at the women's prison in New Castle.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - An attorney for a transgender teen in Virginia is urging the U.S. Supreme Court not to bar him from using the boys restroom when he returns to school this fall.

In a brief filed Tuesday in the high court, Josh Block of the American Civil Liberties Union says the Gloucester County School Board has failed to show that it will be irreparably harmed by allowing Gavin Grimm to use the restroom that corresponds with his gender identity while his case plays out in lower courts.

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RICHMOND, Va. (AP) - A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Virginia says that nearly three quarters of the commonwealth's attorney elections held over a 10 year period were uncontested.

The ACLU looked at every commonwealth's attorney election held between 2005 and 2015. The group says that of the 381 total races during that period, 72 percent of them were uncontested.

The ACLU says that means commonwealth's attorneys' broad powers often go unchecked.