Bill of Rights Dinner: Award Winners

Civil Libertarian Awards

The award honors people and organizations that have made an outstanding contribution to the cause of civil liberties and justice in Washington state in the last year. We will honor two groups with the award at this year's dinner.

The Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network (WAISN)

Washington Immigrant Solidarity Network
In the wake of the November 2016 elections, Colectiva Legal del Pueblo, NWIRP, One America, and other advocates for immigrants anticipated that the rights of non-citizens would be targeted under the Trump administration. A group of activists recognized that the involvement of civil rights, labor, legal, and community groups would be vital to advocacy efforts for immigrants and refugees, and they organized the Washington Immigration Solidarity Network (WAISN) as a diverse coalition of organizations and individuals that strive to protect immigrant communities across the state. WAISN has focused on developing community response teams and reporting tools to galvanize support and provide resources in light of activities by federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents. WAISN has established a statewide hotline to report and respond to ICE raids and detentions. It has created text alert systems for impacted people and for their allies. It has issued Know Your Rights publications in many languages, and has given Know Your Rights presentations to impacted people around the state.

Said Enoka Herat, ACLU-WA Police Practices and Immigration Counsel and ACLU representative to WAISN, "In a relatively short time, WAISN succeeded in centering the needs of immigrants and mobilizing resources to support them on a statewide basis. It is protecting the rights of immigrants in the face of overreach by the federal government."

Every Student Counts Alliance of Spokane

Every Student Counts Alliance
The Every Student Counts Alliance is a group of advocates, parents, and community groups that has played a vital role in successfully pushing for reform of student discipline policies in the Spokane School District
The district previously had the highest student discipline rate in the state. In 2015 roughly 8 percent of all students in the district were suspended or expelled. Black students were suspended or expelled almost twice as often as other students, while students with disabilities were suspended or expelled three times as often.
In response to advocacy by the Alliance and others, the district in 2016 overhauled its approach so as to reduce the use of suspension and expulsion and instead utilize restorative discipline, an approach that puts a premium on relationships.  Continuing its work, the Alliance successfully advocated for reform of the Spokane School District's policy for police in schools.  In 2017 the district adopted a campus safety policy that creates stricter use-of-force guidelines and requires quarterly data reporting.
Every Student Counts has been persistent and creative in its advocacy.  Its tactics have included parent organizing, media work, serving on district committees, and cosponsoring Know Your Rights for parents.  Its members also have conducted trainings for school district staff on appropriate interactions with students with disabilities.  Organizational members include Team Child, the Spokane NAACP, the ACLU-WA, the Arc of Spokane, the Northwest Justice Project, The Northwest Autism Center, the Spokane Regional Health District and Passages Family Support.

The group has worked closely with Youth Policy Director Vanessa Hernandez, who observed, "Their work has truly been impressive.  They have developed a model for collaboration between parents, other reform advocates, and the school district to ensure more effective and community-responsive approaches to reduce school suspension rates and school-based arrests.

Youth Activist Award

The award is presented to a young person (age 22 or younger) or group of young people whose activism exemplifies work to defend and extend liberty and justice for all.

Youth Untied of Auburn

Youth United of Auburn
After the election last November, a group of students at Auburn Riverside High School formed Youth United, an organization dedicated towards fighting for the rights of immigrant youth.  The organization has led the charge to develop an inclusive resolution for Auburn public schools and to push the school district to offer additional Know Your Rights training for students and families related to immigration issues.  They've led protests and walkouts that have unified students from a number of schools across the district. On one march, they withstood pushback from some other students holding signs belittling their efforts and burning tires so smoke would go in their faces.
In response to Youth United's activism, the Auburn School Board adopted changes to school policy to clarify that students' place of birth will not be public information and clarifying that immigration enforcement officials will not automatically be permitted to access school property without a warrant or other justification approved by the Superintendent.  Group members organized other students and family members to testify at school board meetings in support of these policies, and also worked with local community groups to organize Know Your Rights trainings for young people and their families.  Their efforts will help ensure that immigrant students are safe at school and can access their constitutional right to an education.
ACLU-WA Youth Policy Director Vanessa Hernandez observed, "I've been working with the students of Youth United, and they're terrific organizers. I am incredibly impressed by them." Student leadership includes Carlos Rodriguez, Claudia Flores-Bucio, Fatima Prado, Taina Troncoso, Erandi Flores-Bucio, Brittney Rivera, and Juana Rodriguez.