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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.
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Published: 
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Many people were shocked to hear a Seattle Police officer threatening to “kick the fucking Mexican piss” out of a Latino man in South Lake Union last April.  Why did he choose to use those words when the man was already face-down on the ground in the middle of a circle of police officers and physically under their control?  The officer’s action and words were defended by the president of the Seattle Police Officer’s Guild, who said that gang officers deal with plenty of rough characters and often need to use coarse language.  But did the officer need to degrade and humiliate the man? Did the officer need to let him know that he is not worthy of respect? 
Published: 
Tuesday, December 7, 2010
LGBT teenagers are more likely than their peers to be punished by schools, police and the courts, according to a recent Washington Post article which cites the first nationwide study of its kind to highlight these important issues. The study found that LGBT youth are 40% more likely to receive educational and criminal justice-related punishments, such as expulsions, police stops, arrests and incarceration.  These studies confirm what the ACLU has known for a long time: that LGBT students are often discriminated against from a young age, which denies them equal access to education and robs them of future opportunities.  
News Release, Published: 
Friday, December 3, 2010
The ACLU of Washington and 34 other civil rights and community-based organizations are requesting that the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice investigate whether the Seattle Police Department has engaged in a pattern or practice of violations of civil rights. The action comes in response to a series of incidents in which Seattle police officers inflicted unnecessary and excessive physical violence on residents.
News Release, Published: 
Thursday, November 18, 2010
The recently released footage of an incident during which a Seattle police officer is seen repeatedly kicking an African-American youth is yet another disturbing example in a string of recent incidents in which the Seattle Police Department has engaged in unnecessarily violent confrontations with citizens, all of whom have been people of color.  These repeated incidents over the last 18 months, which have continued unchecked and without forceful intervention by the Seattle Police Department, the mayor, or Seattle’s other elected officials, leads the ACLU to call on the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate whether there is a pattern and practice of civil rights violations by the Seattle Police Department in violation of the constitution and federal law.  The ACLU is preparing a formal request to the Department of Justice for such an investigation, according to Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director.
Published: 
Tuesday, November 2, 2010
Last Monday, just before 9 o'clock at night, a half dozen Seattle police officers in black tactical gear, with guns drawn, broke down the front door of an apartment with a battering ram and put the man they found inside in his bathrobe face down on his kitchen floor at gunpoint. The officers' search revealed two marijuana plants, each roughly 12 inches tall, and a document establishing that the man on the kitchen floor had been authorized by his physician to engage in the medical use of marijuana as provided under Washington state law. Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, September 21, 2010
Last week saw the release of two annual federal government reports which highlight the pervasiveness of Marijuana in the U.S. Unfortunately, only one of these reports received attention from U.S. Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske. Read more
Published: 
Monday, September 13, 2010
Prescription opiate abuse (powerful pain killers) is a serious problem requiring smart policy solutions. Two policies intended to curb abuse of these powerful drugs highlight the right and wrong approach for dealing with the issue. Read more
News Release, Published: 
Wednesday, September 8, 2010
In the wake of the tragic shooting of a Native American wood carver, the ACLU-WA told Seattle leaders they must provide leadership in preventing overreactions by police. Among other changes, officers must be trained to understand that “appearing different” doesn’t make someone a threat to public safety.
Published: 
Friday, September 3, 2010
Do you think Arizona, with its “papers please” law, is the only state where law enforcement officials are approaching travelers and asking about their citizenship? Think again. Federal immigration officials are asserting the authority to ask individuals about their citizenship far away from any border crossing or port. And they regularly question people as far as 100 miles away from any border. Nine of the most populous U.S. cities and two-thirds of our nation’s population reside within this “Constitution-free zone.” Read more
Published: 
Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Gangs present a serious public safety challenge to our communities.  But the approach that our state has instinctively turned to in the past—relying on arresting and jailing those believed to be involved in gangs—fails to get to the root causes of the issue, and likely makes it worse.  To be sure, for Washington cities dealing with violent crime, such as those in the Yakima Valley, meeting this challenge means appropriately punishing violent offenders.  But it is equally critical to find avenues through which individuals can leave gangs and reenter the community.  Simply imprisoning gang members and telling them to leave gangs doesn’t work if there’s nothing else for them to do, and no resources to help them get out. Read more

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