The ACLU of Georgia and Civil Liberties Coalition Urge Atlanta City Council to ‎Adopt Reasonable Limitations on Police Use of Drones

July 18, 2014

The ACLU of Georgia was joined yesterday by a civil liberties coalition asking the Atlanta City Council to adopt reasonable limitations on the governmental use of drones for surveillance. To find out more about the effort, see our fact sheet here.

License plate scanners are lowering traffic violations - ACLU says it invades your privacy

July 18, 2014

NBC 26
Kasey Greenhalgh

It's a crime-fighting tool that comes with controversy. The American Civil Liberties Union says they’re concerned about driver’s private information being easily accessible once their tags are scanned.


Chad Brock is the Staff Attorney at the ACLU of Georgia.


There have been instances throughout the country in which this type of information is being shared. We'll consider sending an opens records request to try to get a little bit more information about how they intend to use this, what kind of policies are in place to prohibit this type of information being used in the way that violates the privacy or rights of these individuals," said Brock.

Atlanta City Council eyes drone regulations

July 18, 2014

A civil liberties coalition including the ACLU of Georgia met with the Atlanta City Council yesterday to advocate for adoption of regulations on use of drones by law enforcement.

The military uses them to track down the enemy. Law enforcement agencies around the country deploy them to catch criminals.

Justine Story, a homeowner in northeast Atlanta, hates the idea of robotic eyes flying over metro Atlanta watching everyday citizens.

"I wouldn't want a drone looking in my bedroom window," Story said.

Supporters of drones contend the technology can be a powerful tool for fighting crime and terrorism.

Critics say drones can intrude on the privacy of the law-abiding public.

Limit the abusive Use of SWAT

July 09, 2014

SUPPORT THIS PETITION

Georgia State Legislature

Declare an emergency session of the State Legislature to limit the use of SWAT to situations in which it's truly necessary to save a life. We cannot wait till the next regular session in 2015.

Outrageous! Police should serve and protect our communities, not wage war on the people who live in them.

Nearly 80% of the SWAT raids the ACLU studied* were to serve search warrants, usually in drug cases. SWAT teams are forcing their way into people’s homes, often in the middle of the night, using paramilitary weapons and tactics and doing needless damage to people and property. Poor communities and communities of color bear the brunt of this unnecessary force.

It does not have to be this way. We can make sure that police honor their mission to protect and serve, by ensuring that hyper-aggressive military tools and tactics are only used in situations that are truly “high risk.”

Right now, a twenty-month-old toddler named Baby Bou Bou is recovering after a flashbang grenade thrown by a SWAT officer in Georgia exploded in his crib. The grenade blew a hole in his chest that has yet to heal. Doctors are still unable to fully assess lasting brain damage. This unnecessary tragedy demands immediate action.

Community members, faith leaders, and elected officials across the aisles are building a movement to limit the use of SWAT to situations in which such aggressive tactics are truly necessary to save a life. This would be the first effort of its kind and set a precedent for other states.

We need to let the Georgia legislature know that people across the country are watching. Baby Bou Bou’s case is one of many casualties of a drug war that is being fought with heavy artillery and waning public support, mainly in poor communities and communities of color. If we can urge Georgia to pass a landmark bill, that will be a crucial first step in the right direction to limit the excessive use of SWAT across the country.

Will you call on the Georgia state legislature to address this problem now, before more kids lose their lives because of this excessive militarization?

Sign the Petition!

Portraits of Atlanta Immigrants

July 09, 2014

Creative Loafing interviews ACLU of Georgia's Azadeh Shahshahani about her immigrant experience

9 men and women share their voices, their stories

Thomas Wheatley, Creative Loafing

Forty-four years ago, your chances of hearing a foreign accent in Georgia were slim. At the time, less than 1 percent of the state's population had been born abroad. But in the decades since, Georgia, once shackled by segregation, has become one of the more diverse states in the union. In 2012, according to the Pew Research Center, nearly 10 percent of the state's population was born in another country.

Much of that growth has been centered in metro Atlanta. Last year, the Atlanta Regional Commission estimated that approximately 14 percent of the 20-county region's population was foreign-born. Among the 20 other most populous metros across the country, the metro Atlanta region ranked 14th. But when researchers measure its change in growth over the 2000s, the region lays claim to the second-fastest growing foreign-born population, lagging only Baltimore. In some counties, such as Clayton, foreign-born men, women, and children fueled the majority of the population growth during the booming 2000s.

Reproductive Rights Law Training

July 01, 2014

On June 31, 2014, ACLU law clerks attended the second annual “Atlanta Summer Intern Training on Reproductive Rights Law and Justice,” sponsored by Law Students for Reproductive Justice and hosted by the Feminist Women’s Health Center. The training was an educational and enlightening experience. It was attended by summer law clerks and interns from several legal and advocacy organizations that work to further the reproductive rights of women in Georgia. The four-hour training focused on key reproductive justice issues in Georgia that went well beyond the traditional debate over abortion rights, and included a discussion on the rights of women to give birth with dignity and the obstacles that many women face in accessing much needed health services.

Georgia Immigrant Detainees ‘Riot’ Over Maggot-Filled Food

June 26, 2014

More than two dozen detainees at a notorious immigration detention center in Georgia staged a hunger strike and protest last week over inedible food, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (AJC) reported. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) called the protest at Stewart Detention Center a “riot” that required that detainees be “segregated for disciplinary purposes,” according to the AJC.

The ACLU and Georgia Detention Watch filed a complaint raising alarm about a hunger strike that detainees began on or around June 12, during which hundreds of detainees threw their food away. Detainees have complained that their food is often filled with maggots, or that the same water used to boil eggs is reused to brew coffee. Detainees who work in food preparation have also complained of a roach infestation in the facility’s kitchen. Detainees were frequently served rotten food.

Worsened Conditions at Stewart Led to Hunger Strike Last Week

June 19, 2014

ACLU of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch Reiterate Calls for
Closure of Facility

The ACLU Foundation of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch express grave concern about news of a hunger strike at the Stewart Detention Center in Lumpkin, Georgia last week. Discontent has long been brewing over the poor quality of the food, desperately inadequate medical care, and unlivable conditions. A group of detained immigrants decided to organize together in protest. According to multiple reports, instead of addressing the complaints, guards placed hunger strikers and the entire unit on lock-down. The ACLU of Georgia and Georgia Detention Watch call for transparency from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and reiterate their previous calls for closure of this corporate-run facility.

Scout’s Honor: Young Advocates learn about their Civil Liberties

June 13, 2014

The ACLU Foundation of Georgia joined the Georgia Association of Women Lawyers in the Georgia State Bar building to help Georgia Girls Scouts learn about being Junior Advocates. While the Girl Scout Juniors worked on requirements to earn the Inside Government Badge they learned about how law is relevant to their every day Civil Liberties. After briefly introducing the Girls Scouts to the mission and goals of the ACLU, Law Clerks and Fellow Ese Okuma presented on Student’s Rights in Schools. The presentation began with students learning about some of the issues with School Dress Code policies. Student’s discussed the meaning of Symbolic Speech through illustrations of popular music artists like Lady Gaga, and applied the 1st and 14th amendment to determine what restrictions on dress code may or may not be protected by the constitution.

Georgia Has Little-Known For-Profit Prisons for Immigrants; ACLU Investigation of Such Prisons Reveals Abuse, Inhumane Conditions

June 10, 2014

Report Shows Federal Bureau of Prisons Incentivizes Mistreatment, Shields Immigrant Prisons from Scrutiny

McRae Correctional and D. Ray James Correctional facilities in McRae and Folkston, Georgia are two of the 13 little-known CAR (Criminal Alien Requirement) prisons for immigrants in the United States. For the new report Warehoused and Forgotten: Immigrants Trapped in Our Shadow Private Prison Industry, the ACLU and the ACLU of Texas have investigated CAR prisons in Texas run by Corrections Corporation of America and the GEO Group, the same private prison companies that operate McRae and D. Ray James. The report reveals inhumane conditions and egregious mistreatment of immigrants in prisons that enrich the for-profit prison industry at tremendous costs to taxpayers.

“The report findings are consistent with what we have documented in Georgia. CCA at McRae and the GEO Group at D. Ray James have a record of violations of constitutional and Bureau of Prisons standards governing the medical treatment of prisoners,” said Azadeh Shahshahani, National Security/Immigrants’ Rights Project Director of the ACLU Foundation of Georgia.

In August 2011, the ACLU of Georgia submitted comments to the Bureau of Prisons asking that the agency not renew its contract for operation of McRae. The ACLU of Georgia has also submitted a Freedom of Information Request to the Bureau of Prisons regarding treatment of prisoners at D. Ray James. The comments and the FOIA request are available upon request.

The culmination of a four-year investigation, the ACLU report on facilities in Texas shows how the federal Bureau of Prisons incentivizes private prison companies to keep CAR prisons overcrowded and understaffed. The companies provide scant medical care that is often administered incorrectly, if delivered at all.

As Carl Takei, Staff Attorney at the ACLU’s National Prison Project, explained, “The shameful conditions inside CAR prisons come from the government’s decision to allow the suffering inside these for-profit prisons. For instance, 10% of the bed space in CAR prisons is reserved for extreme isolation—nearly double the rate in normal federal prisons. I spoke to prisoners who spent weeks in isolation cells after being sent there upon intake—simply arriving at prison was the reason why they were locked in a cell and fed through a slot for 23 hours a day.”

CAR prisons hold non-citizens who have been convicted of crimes in the U.S., mostly for immigration offenses (such as unlawfully reentering the country).

Read the report: www.aclu.org/CARabuse.

Press Release