Elected officials who don’t listen to us will still hear from us

Story Date: 
Mar 30, 2017

By Chris Ott, Executive Director, ACLU of Wisconsin

As the brand new executive director of the ACLU of Wisconsin, I want to share this important and encouraging news.

Compared to before last November’s election, more than four times as many people in Wisconsin now belong to the ACLU. This growth has made the ACLU stronger than ever, and we will use this strength to defend your rights and freedoms from threats both new and old.

Whether you signed up years ago or just recently, I want to say thank you. In fact, I hope to meet as many of you as possible in person. We will need each other in the months and years ahead.

I hope you have already seen how your support has become part of the way that the ACLU has led the way nationwide in forcefully and successfully saying NO to President Trump, when he has acted with so little regard for the Constitution and fundamental American rights. Among many other things:

Your support has made the ACLU one of the most important organizations in the country today. We fight for an ambitious agenda of our own, and—critically—we also fight for the rights of others to do the same. It multiplies the effectiveness of our efforts, and of your support.

This matters for our whole country, but it means encouraging news for Wisconsin too.

Since long before 2016, Wisconsin has borne the brunt of attacks on civil rights and civil liberties. These range from longstanding forms of discrimination—such as those still suffered by people of color, women, transgender people, and those with disabilities—to more recent attacks on voting rights and free speech rights.

This year we have already sued the State of Wisconsin, over the abuse of children at the state-run Lincoln Hills School for Boys and the Copper Lake School for Girls, in northern Wisconsin. We also filed a lawsuit against the Milwaukee Police Department, over their unconstitutional stop-and-frisk program, which targets tens of thousands of people without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity—the legal requirement for a police stop.

We planned those lawsuits before our surge in growth. Now, we have greater strength, thanks to our greater numbers. Many of us live in Wisconsin’s larger cities, but ACLU members live in every one of Wisconsin’s 72 counties. And individually, we number more than 25,000 people.

So please keep responding to our calls for action. Please vote this Tuesday, April 4. Please attend ACLU events in your area. If you don’t already, please follow us on Facebook or Twitter. And please share this blog with friends and family who care about civil rights and liberties.

From the local level, to state lawmakers, to the Governor and the President of the United States, let’s make sure that public servants, candidates, and elected officials from every party hear from us—and listen.