Annual Report 2020 - 2021
Thank you! Your continued support of and investment in the ACLU has allowed us to rise to the various challenges of the past year, defending and advancing civil rights and civil liberties through one of the most tumultuous periods in recent memory.
2020 was marked by a global pandemic, a national election in which the president attempted to overturn the result of the vote, and the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and many other Black people at the hands of police. 2021 dawned with a mob of President Trump’s supporters storming the U.S. Capitol, a stark warning about the fragility of our democracy and the threat posed by white supremacy.
Throughout this difficult year, your partnership enabled the ACLU to work fiercely and strategically to defend democracy, protect vulnerable communities, and seize opportunities to make lasting change. I hope this report makes you proud of all that you helped accomplish here in our region and statewide.
This report highlights just a few examples of the work your generosity made possible this year. You also helped us secure a number of other wins, including:
- Advocating successfully to make California the first state in the country to adopt universal mail-in voting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Securing a court order requiring Orange County to reduce its jail population by 50 percent—the most expansive legal victory in the country on jail conditions during COVID-19.
- Co-sponsoring two critical police accountability state bills that have made it to the Governor’s desk: one to decertify bad cops so they can’t be rehired by other jurisdictions, and another to fund a pilot program to create alternatives to police response for certain 911 calls.
- Winning an important Ninth Circuit ruling that ICE violated the First Amendment when it arrested an undocumented college student who read a protest poem about immigration at a Kern County Board of Supervisors meeting and held him on an exorbitant $50,000 bond in retaliation.
- Training and empowering hundreds of parents, students, and educators to ensure that their schools comply with the California Healthy Youth Act, which requires public schools to provide comprehensive, LGBTQ-inclusive sex education.
- Winning an administrative complaint against San Bernardino County education officials for misspending millions in state funding intended for high-needs students, including by routing millions of dollars to law enforcement instead of mental health and other support services.
- Preparing our Supreme Court oral arguments for Fazaga v. FBI in a long-running, landmark case defending religious freedoms and challenging the FBI for illegally spying on the Muslim community in Orange County.
Nationwide, the ACLU won 28 voting rights victories in 21 states, blocked more than 20 abortion bans and restrictions, fought to reunite separated families, secured the release of more than 48,000 vulnerable people from prisons and jails during the pandemic, and won landmark Supreme Court rulings protecting student free speech and establishing that employers can’t fire people for being gay or transgender.
Now is the time to redouble our efforts. We must not only fight to defend fundamental rights whenever they are attacked, but also to advance our own ambitious agenda for necessary systemic change. With your support, we will seize the opportunities ahead to create a freer and more just nation.
Thank you in advance for your continued partnership.
Hector O. Villagra