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Law enforcement must protect both public safety and the rights of individuals. This is why arrests and use of force should be last resorts, not first options, for police. The ACLU-WA advocates for stronger laws regulating police use of force, alternatives to arrest and incarceration, and de-escalation practices and training. And to ensure law enforcement is accountable to the people they serve, the ACLU-WA works for greater community oversight, such as independent civilian review boards with disciplinary authority.
Change state law on prosecuting police for killings
Victory:  Spokane Police will no longer unlawfully detain immigrants
Demand justice: There must be a just response to the killing of Charleena Lyles
Know your rights:  Download our guide on what to do if you're stopped by the police


Wednesday, June 30, 2010
Well, that settles it – government surveillance without suspicion is a costly endeavor. The case surrounding the false arrest of Phil Chinn –the Olympia activist targeted for surveillance based on his political associations – has come to a close. Unfortunately, a new ACLU report on political spying shows that coordinated efforts to target political activists for surveillance persist not only throughout Washington, but throughout the country.
Wednesday, June 23, 2010
Like publishing ideas in books or newspapers, demonstrating in the streets has been one of the fundamental outlets for speech throughout our nation’s history.  The Supreme Court has long held that speech gets maximum protection in certain kinds of public places, like parks, sidewalks, and streets.  People with soapboxes need somewhere to put them, after all. In these public places, speech may be limited only for narrow and very specific reasons.  States are allowed, for example, to prohibit demonstrators from blocking access to buildings like hospitals or fire stations.  We allow the government to make and enforce laws designed to keep those vital public services operating, even when it might limit people’s right to demonstrate in certain areas.  Courts call these “time, place, and manner restrictions,” and as long as they meet certain criteria, they’re constitutional. Read more
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
This is not an isolated incident. The Seattle Police Department has a long history of allowing jaywalking citations to escalate into use of force situations. The pattern is very predictable:  The officer sees a jaywalker, orders the person to come to him, gets angry when the jaywalker either doesn’t respond or argues, and ends up either in a physical confrontation or an arrest for an obstruction charge or both. Read more
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The focus of investigations of gang activity should be on actual criminal acts, not on whether an individual “belongs to” a gang—the label is a distraction rather than a useful tool. Allocating our scarce law enforcement resources on the basis of whether someone looks like a gang member, rather than whether we think someone has committed a crime, virtually guarantees that we will get no closer to solving the issue of gang violence. 
Wednesday, May 26, 2010
Law enforcement agencies around the country and across the state have a powerful new tool to effortlessly identify and track you while you drive, and it is a real threat to your privacy. In other words, the cops want to data-mine your driving habits.
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Yesterday, we got word that Seattle’s aggressive panhandling ordinance has officially died—the city council was unable to overturn Mayor McGinn’s veto. The action came after pressure from the ACLU of Washington, Real Change News, and various other community organizations. The groups opposed the proposed law as an unnecessary measure – Seattle already has a law against “aggressive panhandling” – that scapegoated homeless people rather than addressing real problems of public.  If enforced, the measure likely would lead to more poor people being thrown into the criminal justice system after they are unable to pay fines.
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Arizona's new law creates a mini-police state where people can be asked to show their papers to law enforcement simply because they look or sound "foreign." We must reject any efforts to enact such measures in Washington and make sure that what happens in Arizona stops in Arizona.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
We’re deeply disturbed by a video showing Seattle Police Officers kicking and yelling racial slurs at an individual of color who appeared to be offering no resistance. We recognize that the video is the subject of ongoing investigations, and it is, of course, important to protect the due process rights of the officers involved. But let’s be perfectly clear—using racial slurs or threatening to harm someone because of his race or ethnicity is never acceptable under any circumstances. Police officers have great power to be the enforcement mechanism of our laws. But let’s not forget—it is we as citizens and residents who delegate that power to them. Which is why it is extremely disturbing to see that power being abused by those in whom so much trust is placed.
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
City leaders must make clear that police use of racial epithets is unacceptable, period. In addition, officials investigating the incident should examine the role of other officers on the scene and the need for de-escalation training for police.