Free Speech

The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of expression. Whether it’s the right to protest, freedom of the press, or religious liberty, the ACLU of Ohio is here to defend against government intrusion into our personal, political, and religious lives.

The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of expression. Whether it’s the right to protest, freedom of the press, or religious liberty, the ACLU of Ohio is here to defend against government intrusion into our personal, political, and religious lives.

The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of expression. Whether it’s the right to protest, freedom of the press, or religious liberty, the ACLU of Ohio is here to defend against government intrusion into our personal, political, and religious lives.

Download our “Know Your Rights” Publications

Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio ...

Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio has produced these “Know Your Rights” publications on such topics as free speech, voting rights and police practices among other civil liberties issues.

Our list of downloadable publications is available at www.acluohio.org/KYR

The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of expression. Whether it’s the right to protest, freedom of the press, or religious liberty, the ACLU of Ohio is here to defend against government intrusion into our personal, political, and religious lives.

ACLU of Ohio Files Motion for Summary Judgment in Case Alleging Excessive Force by Columbus Police Officers

COLUMBUS – Today, July 15, the ACLU of Ohio filed a motion for summary judgment in the Southern District of Ohio asking the Court to rule that ...
Police Car Lights

COLUMBUS – Today, July 15, the ACLU of Ohio filed a motion for summary judgment in the Southern District of Ohio asking the Court to rule that two Columbus Police officers used excessive force against the Plaintiffs Ellen Abdur-Rahim and Harrison Kallner. The officers unconstitutionally pepper sprayed Abdur-Rahim and Kallner at close range on January 30, 2017 while the activists were peacefully demonstrating in opposition to President Trump’s Muslim Ban. The lawsuit was filed on July 12, 2017.

“The police body and dash camera footage that came out in this case clearly shows the officers targeting and maliciously assaulting our clients. Our clients were peacefully exercising their rights to dissent against the state when the officers pepper sprayed them in the face and eyes at less than an arm’s length away,” said Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio. “The police used pepper spray against the entire demonstration, and after our clients were injured by it and trying to leave the area, the police followed them and attacked them again.”

The motion for summary judgment pertains exclusively to the state and federal assault claims against the individual officers. The ACLU of Ohio will prove their remaining claims—that the Columbus police also violated the protesters’ First Amendment rights, and did so according to a policy and practice by the Police Department—at a jury trial in February.

“The disturbing visuals confirm that the officers maliciously targeted our clients, and pepper sprayed them at close range, after taunting them and planning their attack for anyone within earshot to hear. The police officers’ actions were gratuitous displays of unlawful force, and we file this motion today to ensure our clients receive the justice delayed to them over the past two and a half years,” added Bonham. “We will take this case all the way to trial to ensure that future peaceful protesters are not subject to the same violence and cruelty from the Columbus Police Department.”

A copy of the motion for summary judgment is available.

 

On Friday, July 12th, the Columbus Police filed their motion for summary judgement.

###

Students’ Rights

March 12, 2018 — Press Release: Schools Should Use Planned National ...
Protesting? Know Your Rights

March 12, 2018 — Press Release: Schools Should Use Planned National Student Walkout as Opportunity for Civil Discourse, Says ACLU.

Watch the ACLU’s People Power Webinar training “Students’ Rights: Speech, Walkouts, and Other Protests

As Americans, we have the right to peacefully protest. Our nation was founded on political dissent, and joining others in peaceful assembly is vital to a thriving democracy.

Students’ Protest Rights

  • Schools can’t punish you for your speech unless it disrupts school.
  • Schools can typically discipline you for missing class, but not because of the content of your protest.
  • You have the right to wear clothing expressing your opinion if it doesn’t disrupt schools or violate the school’s neutral dress code.
  • Outside of school, you enjoy the same rights to protest and speak as anyone else.

What Does Ohio law say about students who skip school?

  • “Truancy,” as Ohio defines it, means absence from school without a legitimate excuse.
  • Ohio’s truancy laws don’t kick in until a student has been absent without excuse for 38-40 school hours in 1 month, or 65+ more school hours in a year.
  • Students cannot be forced to miss school as a result of truancy. Truancy cannot be punished by suspension, expulsion, or removing a student from school solely on the basis of the student’s absence from school without a legitimate excuse.
  • Instead, school districts’ policies regarding truancy must be aimed at reducing the absences, like notifying the student’s parent/guardian, developing an intervention plan, providing counseling for the student, or requesting or requiring the parent to attend parental involvement programs.
  • Only in the most extreme cases can the school take legal action against the parent.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Q: What kinds of speech can schools regulate?
  • A: Schools can regulate school-sponsored speech, speech that is vulgar/offensive, speech that causes a disruption in school, speech that interferes with other students’ rights, speech that incites illegal activity or celebrates drug use, speech that is “obscene,” or speech that makes false personal attacks.
  • Q: Can schools ban certain student groups and allow others?
  • A: No. The Equal Access Act applies, which says that a school cannot allow some extracurricular groups but prohibit others. School officials cannot discriminate based on the political, religious, or philosophical nature of a group.
  • Q: Can school officials control the content of school-sponsored publications?
  • A: Yes, for educational reasons, to maintain school safety, or to protect the rights of other students. But they cannot remove an article from a student newspaper just because they don’t agree with its views, or can the censor an article that criticizes the school.
  • Q: Can you get in trouble for sexting, even if it is on your own time?
  • A: Yes. Ohio treats sexting as a crime, and you could be charged with producing or distributing child pornography. It is best to not engage in sexting and delete any sexting photos you receive.
  • Q: Can schools enforce a certain dress code?
  • A: Yes. Clothes are an important form of expression, but they are not allowed to be disruptive. This means schools can have reasonable dress codes, including bans on piercings, hair colors, tattoos, and certain dance attire. However, political speech on t-shirts is allowed, even if school officials don’t like the message, and religious attire is allowed.

 

Learn More

 


DISCLAIMER – The information on this website is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. Every case depends on the specific facts and circumstances involved. To submit a complaint for review, please go to our Legal Help page.

The Rights of Protesters

...
Protesting? Know Your Rights
Protesters in the street

As Americans, we have the right to peacefully protest. Our nation was founded on political dissent, and joining others in peaceful assembly is vital to a thriving democracy.

Although protesters are clearly protected by the First Amendment, challenges from law enforcement to the right to protest have come in many forms, including mass arrests, illegal use of force, curfews and even corralling protesters into so-called “free-speech zones.” Increasingly, new surveillance technologies are used to collect information on an individuals’ activities by their association with or proximity to a given protest. Even without active obstruction of the right to protest, fear of police intimidation can chill public expression and result in self-censorship.

Q: Do counter-demonstrators have free speech rights?

  • Yes. Although counter-demonstrators should not be allowed to physically disrupt the event they are protesting, they do have the right to be present and to voice their displeasure. Police are permitted to keep two antagonistic groups separated but should allow them to be within the general vicinity of one another.
  • The ACLU monitors the government’s respect for this foundational right. We intervene and advocate—through police departments, the courts, the state legislature, and Know Your Rights presentations and materials—so everyone’s right to protest is respected.

    Protesters! You Have Every Right To:

    • Peacefully assemble to exercise your First Amendment right to protest.
    • Generally, you can protest in “public forums” such as streets, sidewalks, and parks. (Private property owners can set rules for speech on their property.)
    • Some events require permits. For example, you may need a permit for:
      • A march that will block traffic or close streets;
      • A rally that uses amplifiers; or
      • Group demonstrations at certain parks or plazas.
    • Distribute literature, chant, and engage passersby in public spaces without a permit.
    • Photograph or videotape the police in public space.

    Learn More About Your Right to Protest


    Visit Our Free Speech and Police Practices Issue Pages.

    View photo streams from past demonstrations at our archive page.

    Rights of Protesters

     

     

    ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Columbus Police for Excessive Use of Force on Demonstrators

    UPDATE: On March 1, 2018, we filed a ...
    Police Car

    UPDATE: On March 1, 2018, we filed a First Amended Complaint to specifically identify two of the officers involved.

    COLUMBUS, OH—Today the ACLU of Ohio filed a lawsuit on behalf of three individuals who were pepper sprayed at close range while peacefully demonstrating in downtown Columbus on January 30th against the federal government’s Muslim Ban.

    “Columbus Police followed our clients—peaceful demonstrators exercising their First Amendment rights—and sprayed them directly in the face from not more than a few feet away. This unconstitutional use of force is part of a pattern of police misconduct,” said Elizabeth Bonham, staff attorney at the ACLU of Ohio. “ Police video shows that officers maliciously targeted our clients, even joking about who would ‘get to’ spray each person.”

    The January 30th protest came two days after President Trump signed his Muslim Ban executive order, blocking individuals from seven majority-Muslim countries from entering the United States. Several thousand people, many of them Muslim youth, gathered in the intersection of South and High Streets to sing, chant, and pray. At one point, the group knelt in silent prayer.

    “Columbus has a practice of overreacting to peaceful demonstrators and using excessive force,” said Mike Brickner, senior policy director at ACLU of Ohio. “In this current political era, protests will continue to happen regularly. Columbus police must be prepared to de-escalate situations, use force only as necessary, and proactively support demonstrators’ free speech rights – not assault peaceful individuals like they did on January 30.”

    The lawsuit was filed in Federal District Court for Southern Ohio.
    ###

    Read the full complaint.

    Know the maps, rules, and your rights at the 2016 RNC

    Video » Gearing Up for the 2016 RNC

    Read our RNC Guide for Media and Activists

    Know your rights » Filming and photographing police

    Citizens for Trump, et al. v. City of Cleveland: Documents

    1. Complaint filed by ACLU of Ohio Foundation – 6/14/2016

    Exhibits and Declarations

    Exhibit A – Cleveland, Ohio Code of Ordinances – Parade Permits and Fee – July 2015

    Exhibit B – Application for Parade Permit – Organize Ohio

    Exhibit C – Application for Parade Permit – Citizens for Trump

    Exhibit D – City of Cleveland Press Releases and Permit Information – May 2016

    Exhibit E – Ground Floor Video – Proposal for Citizens for Trump

    Exhibit F – Map: Official Event Zone

    Exhibit G – Parade Route – RNC Cleveland 2016

    Exhibit H – Organize Ohio – Letter and Permit Reapplication

    Exhibit I – Parade Permit Reapplication – Citizens for Trump

    Exhibit J – Agreed Judgment Entry – Key, et al. v. City of Cleveland

    Declaration of Lawrence Bresler

    Declaration of Brian Davis

    Declaration of Tim Selaty

    2. Plaintiff’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction – 6/14/2016

    Memorandum of Support of Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order – 6/14/2016

    3. Plaintiffs’ Emergency Motion to Expedite – 6/14/2016

    4. [Proposed] Order Granting Preliminary Injunction – 6/14/2016

    5. Defendant’s Memorandum in Opposition to Proposed Briefing Schedule – 6/14/2016

    6. Plaintiffs’ Motion to Modify Briefing Schedule – 6/15/2016

    7. Defendants’ Motion to Compel Joinder of Defendants Committee on Arrangements and Host Committee – 6/16/2016

    8. Order Denying Motion to Modify Briefing Schedule – 6/17/2016

    9. Plaintiff’s Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Compel Joinder of Committee on Arrangements and Host Committee – 6/20/2016

    10. Defendants’ Motion to Intervene and Expedite – 6/20/2016

    11. Corporate Disclosure Statement – Committee on Arrangements – 6/20/2016

    12. Defendants’ Memorandum in Support of Motion to Dismiss and in Opposition to Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction and Temporary Restraining Order – 6/20/2016 (large pdf)

    13. Plaintiffs’ Opposition to the Committee on Arrangements’ Motion to Intervene – 6/21/2016

    14. Defendants’ Notice of Compliance – 6/21/2016

    15. Order Denying Defendants’ Motion to Compel Joinder and Committee on Arrangements’ Motion to Intervene – 6/21/2016

    16. Plaintiffs’ Reply to in Support of Their Motion for a Preliminary Injunction and TRO and in Opposition to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss – 6/22/2016

    17. Order of Referral to Judge Dan Aaron Polster for Mediation – 6/23/2016 

    18. Transcript of Proceedings Before The Honorable James S. Gwin, Unites States District Judge – 6/23/2016 (Judge’s decision begins on page 60)

    19. Minutes of Proceedings – 6/23/2016

    20. Minutes and Order – Judge Polster Mediation – 6/24/2016

    21. Order Dismissing Case – 6/24/2016

    22. Notice of Filing of Settlement Agreement – 7/15/2016

    23. Settlement Agreement – Approved – Case Closed – 7/18/2016 

     

    Revised Regulations and Maps

    Please note that some web browsers may not render the maps with sufficient clarity. If you encounter this problem, you may want to instead open the file with a pdf reader such as Adobe Acrobat Reader.

    Cleveland Board of Control – Resolution re Event Zone for 2016 Republican National Convention – June 29, 2016

    City of Cleveland – Official Master Map for 2016 Republican National Convention – June 29, 2016

    Law Enforcement and Public Safety Agencies Announce Security and Traffic Restrictions for the 2016 Republican National Convention – Cleveland, OH July 17-21, 2016

    Secret Service Security Zone and Vehicle Restrictions from July 18-21, 2016

    Secret Service Security Zone and Vehicle Restrictions for Welcoming Event on July 17, 2016

    Event Zone Map for 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland – After Lawsuit – June, 2016

    Event Zone and Parade Route for 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland – After Lawsuit – June, 2016

    Event Zone Map for 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland – Before vs. After Lawsuit – June, 2016

    Parade Route for 2016 Republican National Convention in Cleveland, with Arenas – Before vs. After Lawsuit – June, 2016

    Gearing Up for the RNC 2016

    Political conventions often result in massive violations of civil liberties. Past conventions have seen arrests of protesters and innocent bystanders, suppression of political speech, racial profiling, police misconduct, mass surveillance, and interference with travel and ...

    Political conventions often result in massive violations of civil liberties. Past conventions have seen arrests of protesters and innocent bystanders, suppression of political speech, racial profiling, police misconduct, mass surveillance, and interference with travel and association.

    On June 7, 2016, we gathered to discuss what to expect before, during, and after the RNC. Panelists reviewed how the RNC will affect policing and protesting in Cleveland, as well as ways people can get involved.

    ACLU Investigation Uncovers Lack of Policies, Training for RTA Officers in Crowd Control

    ...
    Top of police car – red lights

    CLEVELAND—After reviewing records obtained from the Greater Cleveland’s Regional Transit Authority concerning an RTA police officer’s use of pepper spray against a crowd at the Movement for Black Lives Convening on July 26, the ACLU has discovered the RTA does not have crowd-control policies in place and does not provide its officers with appropriate training.

    “It’s unacceptable that the RTA provides no policies, guidance, nor training to its officers on how to control unruly crowds,” said Drew S. Dennis, staff attorney for the ACLU of Ohio. “Without these sorts of policies and trainings in place, officers are not prepared to properly deal with volatile situations, like what occurred during the Movement for Black Lives Convening.”

    At the time, a group of individuals involved with the Movement for Black Lives Convening did not follow orders to move from around a police car holding a young African-American boy being detained.  In response, RTA police officer Sgt. Robert Schwab used pepper spray to propel a mist of noxious fumes indiscriminately into the crowd.

    “We cannot stress enough how important it is for our law enforcement to lawfully and effectively deal with large crowds,” Dennis said. “Sgt. Schwab’s response to the crowd and use of pepper spray was inappropriate, reckless, and, ultimately, counterproductive.”

    Videos depicting the event show that the crowd swelled after Sgt. Schwab discharged his pepper spray.  Additionally, Sgt. Schwab’s careless use of pepper spray into the crowd affected other police officers.  Records received from the Cleveland State University Police Department show that the pepper spray struck at least one officer in the eyes and another inhaled it.

    “This should be a wake-up call to RTA that it must develop protocols on how its officers should control situations involving large crowds,” said Dennis. “As the RNC draws near, undoubtedly law enforcement across the city and the county will be faced with large group protests. It’s vital that law enforcement be given the tools to effectively and constitutionally handle these situations.”

    ###

    Want to Speak Your Mind in Cleveland? New Ordinance Makes It Easier!

    Protesting in Cleveland?

    Here's What You Need to Know...

    Here’s What You Need to Know

    Protesters at Cleveland GOP Debate - August 6, 2015

    Anyone in Cleveland, as well as elsewhere in Ohio and the country, has the First Amendment right to protest and peaceably assemble. Although the city of Cleveland recently passed a new parade ordinance, you may or may not need to obtain one, depending on where you want to demonstrate; park, public property, or on a sidewalk, or in the street. Keep the following in mind:

      • You don’t need a permit if you’re protesting on public property, such as a park or a public square. You can even protest on a sidewalk, but you and other demonstrators may not block the sidewalk or impede car traffic in any way.

    Check out The Rights of Protesters.

      • It’s only necessary to obtain a permit from the city of Cleveland if you need to walk in the street, hold a procession taking up a lot of sidewalk space, or will be crossing intersections in groups that might slow traffic.
      • If an impromptu demonstration is planned as a result of unfolding events, and it meets the above criteria for needing a permit, organizers should notify the Cleveland Division of Police eight hours in advance by calling Field Operations at (216) 623-5011. If you’re unable to reach someone, try calling the general CPD phone number, which is (216) 623-5000.
    Protesters at Cleveland GOP Debate - August 6, 2015
    • It’s easy to get a permit if you need one. Download and complete the application. Send the form to the Cleveland Department of Public Works, Office of Events & Marketing at: 500 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio 44114; or by email. Instructions are included on the application. Call (216) 664-2484 for more information.
    • Contact the ACLU with questions. Let us know if you’re having difficulty with this process.

    Protester Alert: Groups Do Not Need Parade Permits to Protest in Cleveland, Says ACLU

    In response to planned demonstrations for the ...
    Megaphone

    In response to planned demonstrations for the Republican Presidential Primary Debate in Cleveland, the ACLU of Ohio has released the following protester advisory.

    Executive Director Christine Link said, “Anyone in Cleveland and elsewhere in the country has the First Amendment right to protest and peaceably assemble. Despite media reports to the contrary, you do not need a parade permit from the city to peacefully protest, unless you plan to block traffic or cross an intersection as a group.”

    Even though protesters are clearly protected by the constitution, the definition of “peaceful protest” may differ from person to person. It is important to differentiate between protesting with protected speech and using civil disobedience. With civil disobedience you are choosing to break the law, and perhaps be arrested to make a point. You need to be prepared for what happens when you are arrested.

    More information about your protesting rights available at acluohio.org/protest.

    ACLU Releases Protester Advisory

    CLEVELAND—With demonstrations occurring in Cleveland, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has released a protester alert. This advisory gives basic information about the rights of protesters, the limitations of those rights, and what to do if these rights are ...

    CLEVELAND—With demonstrations occurring in Cleveland, the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio has released a protester alert. This advisory gives basic information about the rights of protesters, the limitations of those rights, and what to do if these rights are violated.

    “We have an important and constitutionally protected right to peacefully protest in this country,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “This advisory will help protesters anticipate and, if possible, avoid confrontations with law enforcement.”

    The ACLU protester advisory also makes clear the difference between protected speech and civil disobedience, in which protesters choose to break the law, and face potential arrest in order to make a point.

    “The ability to protest about important civic matters is core to our First Amendment rights, and must not be impeded by law enforcement or other government officials,” said Link. “At the same time, protestors should be educated on their rights and what they can and cannot legally do.”

    Recently, several groups in the city, many affiliated with the Black Lives Matter movement, have organized protests of the trial verdict of Cleveland police officer Michael Brelo and the investigation of the death of Tamir Rice.

    For more information, visit www.acluohio.org/protest.

    Protesters: Know Your Rights!

    Although the right to peacefully protest is constitutionally protected, the definition of “peaceful protest” may differ from person to person. Here are some valuable tips on what to do if you are confronted by a police officer or another public ...

    Although the right to peacefully protest is constitutionally protected, the definition of “peaceful protest” may differ from person to person. Here are some valuable tips on what to do if you are confronted by a police officer or another public official during a protest.

    Bookmark this page! You can also download a wallet size card for printing. If you have an encounter with the police, you can protect yourself and your rights. If you believe that your rights have been violated, please contact an attorney.


    What You Need to Know

         Your Rights as a Protester

         Keep in Mind

         Limitations on Speech

         Limitations on Action

         If You Are Arrested


    Your Rights as a Protester

    • You have the First Amendment right to peacefully assemble to protest.
    • You can protest in public spaces, such as streets, sidewalks, and parks so long as you aren’t blocking traffic. If anticipating a group large enough to block pedestrian or car traffic, contact your municipal government for more information.
    • You can protest without a permit in response to recent events. Check local laws for restrictions.
    • You have the right to distribute literature, chant, and engage passersby in debate in public spaces without a permit.
    • You can photograph or videotape the police.

    Go back to list


    Keep in Mind

    • What you say to the police is always important. What you say can be used against you, and it can give the police an excuse to arrest you.
    • You are required to provide your name, address, or date of birth to a law enforcement officer upon request. You can be arrested for refusing to identify yourself to an officer.
    • You do not have to consent to a search of yourself or your car.

    Go back to list


    Limitations on Speech

    • The government can limit speech by imposing “time, place, and manner” restrictions. This is most commonly done by requiring permits for meetings, rallies, and demonstrations.
    • The First Amendment does not protect speech that incites violence, is obscene, or is threatening
    • It is a federal crime to threaten to harm the president, the vice president, or a major candidate for either office.

    Go back to list


    Limitations on Action

    • If you endanger others through the manner in which you choose to protest, you can be arrested. A protest that blocks traffic generally requires a permit.
    • You do not have the right to block a building entrance or physically harass people.
    • Protesting on private property is not protected by the law. You can be arrested if trespassing.
    • Do not interfere with, touch or verbally antagonize the police.
    • Avoid carrying any drugs or weapons. If you happen to be arrested, you could face additional charges for their possession.

    Go back to list


    If You Are Arrested

      • Do not run or resist. It may result in additional charges.
      • The whole process, from arrest to release on bail, should take about 24-36 hours.
      • The police will ask you for basic biographical information and will take your fingerprints and photograph, unless you have been charged with a very minor crime.
      • You will then be interviewed by a court agency so that bail can be assessed. You do not have to answer their questions, but giving accurate information will speed the process.
      • You can hire an attorney to represent you at the arraignment and present arguments regarding bail.
      • The judicial officer will set bail according to several factors (local connections, seriousness of the crime, how many other protesters have been arrested, etc.).
      • There are three main types of crimes that you could be charged with. They are, from least to most severe, a minor misdemeanor, a misdemeanor offense, and a felony offense.

    Go back to list

    If you feel your rights have been violated, write down everything you can remember, including officers’ badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details.  Get contact information for witnesses. 

    Ohio residents who believe their rights have been violated are encouraged to report these concerns to:

    ACLU of Ohio
    Attn: Intake Department
    4506 Chester Ave.
    Cleveland, OH 44103

    Or go to our Need Legal Help page:
    www.acluohio.org/resources/need-legal-help

    Go to our Protest page, where we have a number of additional resources.

    Rights of Protesters

     

     

    Protesting? Know Your Rights

    Check out our newest resource, the Ohio Civil Liberties Snapshot

    Download our “Know Your Rights” Publications

    Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio ...

    Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio has produced these “Know Your Rights” publications on such topics as free speech, voting rights and police practices among other civil liberties issues.

    Our list of downloadable publications is available at www.acluohio.org/KYR

    Blog Post » Black Lives Matter: Marching on Washington

    Protesters: Know Your Rights

    Blog Post » Inspiring a New Generation of Activists

    ACLU Sues Cleveland, Police Department over Officer Gag Order

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation filed suit this afternoon in federal court in Cleveland, on behalf of three African American police supervisors who were threatened with discipline for criticizing police deployment practices in the press. Lieutenants Robert Miller ...

    The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation filed suit this afternoon in federal court in Cleveland, on behalf of three African American police supervisors who were threatened with discipline for criticizing police deployment practices in the press.

    Lieutenants Robert Miller and Robbin Riley, and Captain Donald Stewart are all members of the African American Supervisors Association (“AASA”). The group, formed in January 2003, advocates for fairness and transparency in the placement of African American supervisors within the Cleveland Police Department.

    Of particular concern is a practice called deployment, where officers may be placed in high ranking positions outside of ordinary, merit based civil service channels. In April, members of the AASA raised their concerns about this system with high ranking officials in the police department. In June and July, Lts. Miller and Riley and Capt. Stewart made comments in several Cleveland newspapers critical of the existing deployment scheme. In response, Lts. Miller and Riley received written warnings, cautioning them against speaking to the press again.

    The First Amendment protects the rights of public employees to criticize government policy on matters of public concern. Because the AASA is seeking a more equitable system of deployment, that provides better career opportunities for African American Supervisors, the comments of Lts. Miller and Riley and Capt. Stewart are protected expression, and cannot form the basis for discipline.

    “Good government depends on transparency,” said B. Jessie Hill, a Visiting Assistant Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University who is handling the case as a volunteer for the ACLU. “Democracy functions best when the government is open to informed, intelligent criticism. These high ranking police officers are doing a public service by exposing flaws in the system.”

    The suit seeks a court order declaring the AASA and its members are within their rights to criticize deployment practices in the press, and prohibiting the city and the department from retaliating against them.

    The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of expression. Whether it’s the right to protest, freedom of the press, or religious liberty, the ACLU of Ohio is here to defend against government intrusion into our personal, political, and religious lives.

    Blog Post » Inspiring a New Generation of Activists

    Save the Date » Movies with a Mission: The Puffin Collaborative Film Festival

    The ACLU of Ohio is proud to be among the sponsors of the ...

    The ACLU of Ohio is proud to be among the sponsors of the Puffin Collaborative Film Festival, to be held from September 21 – 25, 2014.

    Here is some additional information about each evening’s events:

    Night One – Monday, September 22, 2014
    Films that celebrate the stories of people with disabilities

    Night Two- Tuesday, September 23, 2014
    Stories about the past and future of American life

    Night Three – Wednesday, September 24, 2014
    Characters taking a stand to protect the environment

    Night Four – Thursday, September 25, 2014
    Showcasing the changing landscape of American culture with two inspiring and iconic films

     

     

    Terrorism Finance Laws Undermine Ohio Muslims’ Religious Freedom, Says ACLU

    CLEVELAND- U.S. terrorism finance laws and policies unfairly prevent Muslims in Ohio and around the nation from practicing their religion through charitable giving and undermine America’s diplomatic efforts in Muslim countries, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report out ...

    CLEVELAND- U.S. terrorism finance laws and policies unfairly prevent Muslims in Ohio and around the nation from practicing their religion through charitable giving and undermine America’s diplomatic efforts in Muslim countries, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report out late last night. The 164-page report, “Blocking Faith, Freezing Charity,” is the first comprehensive report that documents the serious effects of Bush administration terrorism finance laws on Muslim communities, including those in Toledo and other Ohio cities.

    “Without notice and through the use of secret evidence and opaque procedures, the Treasury Department has effectively closed down seven U.S.-based Muslim charities, including KindHearts,” said Jennifer Turner, a researcher with the ACLU Human Rights Program and author of the report. “While terrorism financing laws are meant to make us safer, policies that give the appearance of a war on Islam only serve to undermine America’s diplomatic efforts just as President Obama reaches out to the Muslim world. These counter-productive practices alienate American Muslims who are key allies and chill legitimate humanitarian aid in parts of the world where charities’ good works could be most effective in winning hearts and minds.”

    According to the report, for which the ACLU conducted 120 interviews with Muslim community leaders and donors in several states including Ohio, federal law enforcement agents are engaging in practices that intimidate Muslim American donors, such as widespread interviews about their donations and surveillance of donations at mosques. Those interviewed say the government’s actions have a chilling effect on Muslim charitable giving, or Zakat, one of the five pillars of Islam and a religious obligation for all observant Muslims.

    The Ohio-based charity KindHearts for Charitable Humanitarian Development was established in 2002—after the government shut down a number of Muslim charities—with the express purpose of providing humanitarian aid at home and abroad in full compliance with the law. In February 2006, the Treasury Department froze the funds of the charity, stating only that it was “under investigation.” In a unilateral action, the Treasury Department effectively shut KindHearts down without notice of the basis for the freeze, any hearing, any finding of wrongdoing, or any meaningful opportunity to defend itself. KindHearts has been in limbo for more than three years and has asked for independent judicial scrutiny of the government’s action.

    “Post 9/11 policies have created a climate of fear that intimidates donors and prevents Muslims in Ohio from practicing their religion,” said ACLU of Ohio Executive Director Christine Link. “This legacy of the Bush administration tarnishes America’s reputation as a beacon of religious freedom.”

    In his speech from Cairo on June 4, President Obama raised the issue of terrorism finance laws that have an adverse effect on Muslim giving. The ACLU report makes comprehensive recommendations to the Obama administration and Congress that are necessary to ensure terrorism financing policies are consistent with American values of due process and religious freedom.

    The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of expression. Whether it’s the right to protest, freedom of the press, or religious liberty, the ACLU of Ohio is here to defend against government intrusion into our personal, political, and religious lives.

    Blog Post » 2016 Is Only a Year Away…

    Download our “Know Your Rights” Publications

    Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio ...

    Given how complex our nation is, it should come to no surprise how difficult it can be to know each and every one of the legal rights guaranteed to us by the U.S. Constitution. That’s why the ACLU of Ohio has produced these “Know Your Rights” publications on such topics as free speech, voting rights and police practices among other civil liberties issues.

    Our list of downloadable publications is available at www.acluohio.org/KYR

    The First Amendment guarantees us freedom of expression. Whether it’s the right to protest, freedom of the press, or religious liberty, the ACLU of Ohio is here to defend against government intrusion into our personal, political, and religious lives.

    Check out our newest resource, the Ohio Civil Liberties Snapshot