Since September 11, 2001, our government has embarked on a wholesale revision of our basic rights: discrimination against immigrants, detentions, domestic spying, and government secrecy have been carried out in the name of security. But the ACLU has fought at each step and continues to fight for a vision of American security that includes preserving our freedom, our democratic institutions, and our fundamental rights.

The ACLU is founded on principles: liberty, justice, equality. But our struggle to implement this vision is far from abstract, in both its sources and its results, as you’ll see in the lives we’ve highlighted in this report. Our efforts are grounded in, informed by, and seek to change the real life experience of ordinary people whose freedom is imperiled, who live with injustice, or whose lives and opportunities are shaped by inequality.

Even as we fight the government’s attempt to take back freedom, we seek to build our vision of freedom and greater equality in everything from education, where our landmark statewide class action suit presses for accountability in the provision of adequate educational opportunities for all California students, to foster care, to the rights of immigrant workers to organize. In our policy work and in our litigation, we actively seek opportunities to create an impact on the shape of our society. And in 2002, we acted on many of these opportunities including our successful intervention bid in the LAPD consent decree on behalf of communities affected by police abuse, our fight for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender students to attend schools without being harassed, and our victory in reforming our system of voting.

Guided by principle, grounded in experience, our work has thousands of faces, and it is a few of these faces we’d like to show you, close-up, in this report. The face of a woman who served her country, only to be told that because she’s an immigrant she wouldn’t be able to continue her work, the face of a mother who’s looking at 25 years of separation from her son because of California’s draconian Three Strikes law, and the face of a young woman eager for an education her school is incapable of fully providing.

Your continued support helps us as we seek to rewrite the stories of hundreds of thousands of people just like those we’ve profiled in this report. Thank you for your collaboration in helping us build freedom and make history. 

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