Category Archives: Civil rights

America the Trumped: 10 ways the administration attacked civil rights in year one

[Anyone viewing this site knows of the threats described in SPLC’s special report. But we may tend to think that, in the title of Sinclair Lewis’s 1935 novel, “It Can’t Happen Here.” But it is happening in the US, and although Trumpism has much less hold in Chester County than in many parts of the country, our lives and institutions are certainly not immune to the abuses promoted by the administration’s “year one.”]

Southern Poverty Law Center, January 19, 2018

from the introduction to the report:

Here are 10 ways that he, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and other administration officials have undermined protections for the most vulnerable people in America.

Promoting a white nationalist agenda
Slashing civil rights enforcement
Revving up the deportation machine
Banning Muslims
Attacking voting rights
Shredding LGBT protections
Encouraging police abuses
Reviving debtors’ prisons
Undermining public education
Eroding the rights of students with disabilities

Read the full report, with many links to sources, at Southern Poverty Law Center

Congressman Unblocks Social Media Critics After Legal Threat from ACLU-PA May 14, 2018

ACLU-PA, 5/14/18

But the ACLU Continues to Investigate Complaints

PHILADELPHIA – At the urging of the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania, U.S. Representative Ryan Costello of Chester County has agreed to unblock constituents from his official Facebook page, the civil liberties group announced in a statement today.

The ACLU of Pennsylvania sent Costello a letter in March on behalf of nine constituents threatening potential legal action over the congressman’s frequent blocking of his critics on his official Facebook page and viewpoint-based exclusion of constituents from his town hall meetings, which the ACLU explained undermined the constituents’ First Amendment free speech rights. The constituents who were blocked by Costello had expressed their opinions to him on a wide range of issues, including net neutrality, the environment, his support of President Trump, and his unwillingness to condemn racist, alt-right rhetoric.

“Democracy is noisy, and the right to free speech ensures that government officials hear what the people have to say,” said Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “Our system of governance can’t work properly if elected officials cut off their constituents’ access in response to criticism.”

In response to the ACLU’s letter, the congressman’s staff also confirmed that they had blacklisted two of the constituents named in the letter from attending a January 2018 town hall meeting based on statements made by the constituents that the congressman’s staff considered “threats.” In follow-up discussions with Costello’s staff, the ACLU noted that the congressman’s staff had failed to identify any legitimate basis for deeming any of the named constituents security threats and reminded Costello in a subsequent letter that prohibiting their attendance at future events based on their views will lead to a lawsuit.

“Our constitutional rights can only be protected when people are willing to stand up and say, ‘This is not right,’” said Molly Tack-Hooper, staff attorney at the ACLU of Pennsylvania. “We are grateful that our clients were willing to speak out publicly—not only to defend their own rights, but to raise awareness about this problem and preserve everyone’s right to contact their representatives without fear of retaliation.”…

keep reading at ACLU-PA

Doing well by doing good: MLK and the Kennedys, 1960

This is a political feel-good story for the day, as least for Democrats.

“How JFK Saved MLK’s Life And So Won The Presidency” by Greg Palast, 1/15/18, shows that a few days before the 1960 election that gave JFK a narrow victory over Richard Nixon, MLK was arrested and sentenced to hard labor in Georgia, a sure death sentence for him given the conditions and racial strife of the time. MLK Sr. called then Vice President Richard Nixon, whom he had endorsed, but got no reply. MLK’s wife Coretta King, however, called Harris Wofford, who was a member of JFK’s campaign staff; Wofford called Bobby Kennedy, who with JFK’s approval proceeded to get MLK out of jail.

The Kings then endorsed JFK and may well have determined the result of the whole election. Wofford went on to be JFK’s Special Assistant to the President for Civil Rights, founder of the Peace Corps, President of Bryn Mawr College, US Senator from PA from 1991-94, and much more. In 2006, Rick Santorum, who had defeated Wofford in 1994, was in turn defeated by current Senator Bob Casey.

Read more at Greg Palast and (about Wofford) in Wikipedia.

Congressional Black Caucus to Donald Trump

From executive summary of “WE HAVE A LOT TO WE HAVE A LOT TO LOSE: SOLUTIONS TO ADVANCE BLACK FAMILIES IN THE 21ST CENTURY,” the March 2017 Congressional Black Caucus‘s reply to the question “What do you have to lose”:

…The CBC calls on the Trump Administration to strengthen voter protections and reform the criminal justice system from end-to-end. We call on this Administration to address the expanding wealth and income gaps between the rich and the poor in this country and strengthen the ladders that lift millions of Americans out of poverty. We call on the Trump Administration to commit to basic principles of humanity and decency, mainly that every child should have access to a high-quality education and every life deserves affordable, quality health care. The CBC calls on this Administration to improve the circumstances of the American worker and prepare our nation’s workforce for the challenges of the future. We call on the Trump Administration to guarantee that every American has equal access to clean air, water, and soil. Finally, we call on the Trump Administration to address the unique challenges in Rural America and help revitalize these oft forgotten communities.

If President Trump is sincere in his interest in advancing the Black community, this document should be the guiding post of his Administration….

download the full report at Congressional Black Caucus