Martin Luther King Jr. was a radical leader who demanded an end to racial injustice, criticized the complicity of white moderates, and advocated for a radical redistribution of political and economic power. His leadership was buttressed by the work of organizers, Black women and men, LGBTQ people of color, students, and activists spanning age, ethnicity, race, and income levels.

In commemoration of his legacy and the Civil Rights Movement, we've put together some highlights of the work we're doing to promote racial justice, stop discrimination based on race and ethnicity, and ensure equal opportunities for communities of color.

Reforming California’s Racially Biased Money Bail System

Money bail lets the rich buy their freedom while preying on everyone else, especially communities of color. Because people of color are over-policed, arrested, and detained more often than white people, they also face higher bail amounts. The results of even just a few days in jail can be devastating — people can end up losing their jobs, their homes, and their children. Read about the work we’re doing to reform our broken bail system.

ACLU Combats Profiling and Jailing of Latinos

Sergio Carrillo, a U.S. citizen, was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and detained for three days despite him repeatedly informing him of his citizenship status. The ACLU of Southern California filed a lawsuit and won a substantial settlement for our client. We are also representing Guadalupe Plascencia, a U.S. citizen who was unlawfully detained by the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department (SBSD) and ICE.

Racial Disparities in Officer-Involved Shootings in Anaheim and Kern County

Our reports Anaheim Police Department Use Of Force Report 2017 and Patterns & Practices of Police Excessive Force in Kern County revealed a disparate impact of police shootings on low-income communities of color. We are actively working in these communities to increase police transparency and accountability by advocating for civilian review boards and federal oversight.

Supporting Those Who #TakeAKnee

While some school districts outside California have attempted to discipline students for engaging in such non-disruptive protests such as taking a knee during the national anthem, we sent letters to the California Department of Education and other education organizations providing guidance on students' right to protest.

At our annual Bill of Rights Dinner, we honored pro football player Colin Kapernick with the Eason Monroe Courageous Advocate Award for kneeling in protest during the national anthem at football games as a statement against police brutality, particularly against Black people and other people of color.

Advocating for Lawful, Respectful, and Humane Treatment Inside Orange County Jails

Based on a two-year investigation, we released our Orange County Jails report detailing inhuman conditions and a pattern of neglect by sheriff and county officials. The full 108-page investigative report is the result of more than 120 interviews with present and former individuals incarcerated in the OC jails and an extensive review of the recommendations of seven grand juries over the last decade during Sheriff Sandra Hutchens's tenure.

The report includes a demand that Sheriff Hutchens step down from her position. That same afternoon of the report's publishing, Hutchens announced that she will be retiring and will not run for reelection when her term ends this summer.

Campaign to Reform District Attorney’s Office

District Attorneys (DAs) are among the most powerful elected officials in local government, and for decades have been the primary drivers of America's devastating and racially biased mass incarceration problem. The ACLU of California launched the Meet Your DA campaign to raise awareness about the powerful role district attorneys play in California's 58 counties, to increase accountability and transparency within the offices, and help reform our racist criminal justice system.

Facebook Surveillance

An investigation by the ACLU of California revealed that law enforcement agencies across the state were secretly acquiring social media spying software to monitor and target protesters and activists of color. Partnering with the Center for Media Justice and Color of Change, the ACLU successfully lobbied Facebook and Instagram to prohibit surveillance companies from using their platforms to target Black and brown people.

The ACLU is proud to honor Dr. King by renewing our commitment to fight for racial and economic justice throughout California.

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