On June 29, Aaron Bailey was pulled over and fatally shot by IMPD. Bailey was an unarmed person of color, whose tragic death demands action and accountability. Both IMPD and the FBI are in the midst of investigations. The ACLU of Indiana is grateful that Prosecutor Terry Curry has heard the concerns of the community and designated a special prosecutor to pursue the case.
At the ACLU of Indiana, we believe that Aaron Bailey, his family and the Indianapolis community deserve an examination of the facts that will expose both the truth and the path toward a safe community for all.
"None of the actions that we can take now will bring back the life that was taken, but we as a community and as advocates must do whatever we can to ensure this tragedy does not repeat itself," says Katie Blair, Director of Advocacy with the ACLU of Indiana.
The first steps toward transparency were taken with Curry's appointment of a special prosecutor and with local law enforcement's examination of their policing practices.
"We stand with the family of Aaron Bailey," says Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The recurring incidents of police actions, around the country, that harm people of color show the need for policing practices that serve and protect with fairness and without bias."
Police departments across the country engage in aggressive and selective enforcement disproportionately and unfairly in communities of color. The facts are undeniable and these tragedies need to stop immediately. We encourage and support IMPD in their stated intention to spend time and care revamping their training practices. We ask that they maintain this focus on fairness and impartiality for years to come.
While the ACLU of Indiana is not presently involved in litigation in this matter, the ACLU nationally demands transparency and the protection of our civil liberties. We are paying close attention to Aaron Bailey's case as more details come forward.
August 17, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS -- Today the ACLU of Indiana a filed class action lawsuit against the City of Indianapolis for unconstitutionally prohibiting homeless individuals from standing and gathering on certain public sidewalks downtown, while exempting those who are not homeless. The ACLU argues that the city's policy and actions, by selectively targeting homeless people, violate their clients' constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law.
On August 4, 2017 the city posted notice that homeless people remove themselves and their things from downtown underpasses within four days. Since that time, homeless persons have been prohibited even from standing or sitting, while the City allows people who are not homeless to remain without interference. The lawsuit is brought on behalf of Maurice Young, a homeless man and advocate in Indianapolis, and other homeless individuals who have been banned from standing or sitting on public sidewalks by the city's selectively-enforced declaration of emergency.
"The Supreme Court has repeatedly invalidated attempts to prohibit persons from gathering for innocent purposes," said Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The right to do so does not depend on a person's housing status. The Constitution guarantees everyone equal protection under the law."
Mr. Young, who works with the homeless and often meets with them in these areas, sat down on one of the wide sidewalks under a downtown overpass and was told to leave by an officer with the IMPD, who said that homeless individuals could not sit or stand under an overpass. The ACLU of Indiana's suit argues that the policy and actions of the City of Indianapolis violate the Constitution.
"Homeless people such as Mr. Young deserve respect for their humanity and the full protection of the Constitution," said Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "The City of Indianapolis is trying to make an end-run around the Constitution with a permanent state of emergency, but the rule of law still applies."
The lawsuit alleges that the city's definition of "emergency" is unconstitutionally vague, as is the city's prohibition on standing, sitting, or otherwise congregating on the sidewalks that are under the railroad bridges immediately north of South Street on Pennsylvania Street, Meridian Street, Illinois Street, and Capitol Avenue. The lawsuit further alleges that the city's selective enforcement only to homeless persons violates equal protection. The ACLU of Indiana is seeking declaratory and injunctive relief.
"All homeless people have rights and those rights must be protected," said Maurice Young, plaintiff and a longtime homeless advocate in Indianapolis.
The case, Maurice Young v. City of Indianapolis, Case No. 1:17-cv-02818-TWP-MJD, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on August 17, 2017.
In 2017 it's shocking that the President of the United States is unwilling to accept the fact that all Americans should be able to serve in the military regardless of their gender.
"Transgender military members are brave Americans who are selflessly protecting our freedoms," says Kit Malone, Transgender Educator and Advocate with the ACLU of Indiana. "There is no basis for turning away transgender people from military service, and there is no cost or drawback associated with allowing them to serve."
Recent studies show that about one-fifth of all transgender adults are veterans, making transgender people approximately twice as likely as others to serve in the military.
"We have come to understand that basic equality, as expressed by equal protection, guarantees everyone equal rights," says Ken Falk, Legal Director of the ACLU of Indiana. "For the President to take this step against people who serve America is shockingly regressive."
We stand with all transgender military members and want to hear from you. If you are transgender and have experienced discrimination please contact us.
By Jane Henegar, Executive Director of the ACLU of Indiana
There is a threat to electoral integrity in Indiana and across the nation. It isn't hidden within voter data. It is right out in the open; it is the number of votes cast in our elections. The U.S. voter turnout is extremely low compared to other countries. We ranked 31st among the 35 countries according to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, and Indiana had the worst voter turnout in the nation in 2014.
Because of voter access and turnout problems, too many eligible voters do not vote in Indiana and across the country. But, instead of focusing on making sure America's elections are safe, fair, and transparent, we are seeing a coordinated attack on voting rights in our nation.
Most recently, the demand for voter information from the "Election Integrity" Commission, chaired by Vice President Mike Pence, raises substantial privacy concerns. Many states have refused to share data and risk the security of voter's personal information.
Here in Indiana, the Secretary of State's office complied with a limited amount of the voter data demanded by Kris Kobach, vice chair of the Commission. Under Indiana law a voter's name, address and congressional district are available to the public. Otherwise, voter information is kept private.
The voter suppression commission, as we should more aptly call it, requested full names of all registrants, addresses and dates of birth, last four digits of social security numbers, political party and voter history. Kobach has promised that "any documents that are submitted to the full Commission will also be made available to the public." There is no guarantee that the information will be kept anonymous and secure. For the ACLU of Indiana, the lack of clarity and potential misuse of this data raises substantial constitutional concerns.
This Commission's creation and its overreach for information are indicative of something larger. At the same time that the "Election Integrity" Commission sent out their request, the Department of Justice informed all 50 states that they "are reviewing voter registration list maintenance procedures in each state covered by the NVRA [National Voter Registration Act]" and asking how states plan to remove voters from the rolls. The ACLU sees this as a sign that the Department of Justice may sue states in the hopes of forcing them to remove voters from the rolls, endangering the rights of many.
Given these concerns, the lack of transparency of the Commission is alarming. Which is why the ACLU has filed suit. Federal law requires that meetings be open to the public. The Commission must provide timely notice of meetings, allowing for in-person attendance, and make written records available to the public. Federal law also states that the Commission must ensure that it's not inappropriately influenced by special interests or the president himself.
The "Election Integrity" Commission has violated federal requirements and impeded constitutional rights. We will hold it accountable. It's our elected officials' responsibility to preserve and advance the right to vote, not to hinder and impair.
The right to vote is essential to a vibrant democracy. The ACLU of Indiana will continue to protect our democracy and support our constitutional right to have our voices heard.
Take action against this attack on voter's rights
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 29, 2017
INDIANAPOLIS -- A federal court today blocked provisions of a restrictive new abortion law, SEA 404, from taking effect, granting a request by the American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana (ACLU) on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky (PPINK) and its patients. Signed by Governor Eric Holcomb earlier this year, SEA 404 sought to impose unconstitutional requirements on physicians and health care providers as well as undue burdens on young women's personal medical decisions.
"Today's ruling is a victory for women and another rebuke of politicians who insist on putting their own agenda ahead of women's health and safety," said Jane Henegar, ACLU of Indiana Executive Director. "Today's ruling should also send a clear message to politicians in the capitol to stop putting arbitrary and invasive bureaucratic hurdles between women and their personal medical decisions."
SEA 404 included an unnecessary and dangerous add-on to Indiana's existing parental consent law. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that a minor who is unable or unwilling to obtain parental consent for an abortion must be allowed to obtain an abortion if a judge determines that she is sufficiently mature to make the decision herself or that an abortion is in her best interest. Indiana has long had such a procedure. SEA 404, however, would afford another opportunity for a parent to block a minor's decision to obtain an abortion by allowing parents to be notified, even in cases in which a judge has determined that a young woman is mature enough to make the decision herself. The Court concluded that this provision "places an unjustifiable burden on mature minors in violation of the Fourteenth Amendment."
"This decision affirms that the state must continue to provide a safe alternative for young women who - whatever their circumstances - are unable to talk to their parents about this difficult and personal decision," said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director, Ken Falk. "Instead of protecting women and families, these heavy-handed restrictions would have burdened young women's constitutional rights and put their health and safety at risk."
Another provision of the new legislation would have imposed unconstitutional requirements on physicians to review identification that is not required for any other medical or surgical procedure. A third provision of SEA 404 violates the First Amendment free speech requirements by silencing health care providers who may give information to young women about their legal options in seeking an abortion in the absence of parental consent.
"Judge Sarah Evans Barker's ruling is an affirmation of abortion rights in Indiana," said Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of PPINK. "PPINK encourages teenagers to have open and honest conversations with their family members, but we recognize that not every teen is able to do so safely. SEA 404 sought to silence our staff and prevent fully-informed conversations with our patients. It is blatantly unconstitutional and yet another example of politicians trying to make medical decisions for Hoosiers."
The case, Planned Parenthood of Indiana and Kentucky v. Commissioner, Indiana State Department of Health, et al., Case1:17-cv-01636-SEB-DML, was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana, Indianapolis Division, on May 18, 2017 and was decided on June 28, 2017.