Weekly Rights Review: 5/27

May 27, 2011

Summer seems to have finally settled in just in time to soak up some sun in downtown Detroit's Hart Plaza.

This weekend, be sure to come out and show your support for civil liberties and visit our booth at Motor City Pride. We'll be at fairs and festivals across the state all summer, spreading awareness of civil liberties issues and telling our clients' stories.

We're recapping some of these stories in this week's Rights Review, including an interesting investigation into how private companies are tailoring (if not outright censoring) what you see on the internet.

Michigan News

Racial Profiling in Michigan?
Luis and Telma just wanted to show their new puppy to a young relative. Instead, they were pulled from their car, assaulted, and handcuffed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents, even though Luis is a U.S. citizen and Telma is a green card holder.

We've demanded that ICE turn over all records related to this failed raid, training and supervision materials, and racial profiling policies.

We're troubled by the possibility that racial profiling is at play, and that innocent Americans are being assaulted and detained simply for the color of their skin (via the American Independent).

Raising Awareness of Injustice
Frederick Mardlin stood in the ACLU of Michigan conference room, surrounded by supporters and reporters. He spoke only a sentence or two before becoming overwhelmed by emotion. His last words before sitting down? "It isn't fair. It isn't right."

Frederick was imprisoned for three years for a crime he didn't commit. He lost his marriage and seeing his children grow up, simply because his public defense attorney couldn't hire an expert who would have exonerated him.

Stories like Frederick's are all too common in our state. Our report Faces of Failing Public Defense Systems: Portraits of Michigan’s Constitutional Crisis, written with the Michigan Campaign for Justice, details the lives of 13 men who fell victim to the failing public defense system in our state.

"These are the beloved sons, grandsons, brothers, fathers, uncles and grandfathers," said Robin Dahlberg, senior staff attorney with the ACLU Racial Justice Program.

We must work together to fix this broken system that allows the innocent to be punished while the guilty go free (via the Michigan Citizen).

National News

Tailoring the Internet, Cutting Out the First Amendment?
Large Internet companies such as Facebook, Google and Yahoo are increasingly using what they know about a person to decide what content to show that person on the internet.

While the First Amendment protects the right to free speech and association free from government interference, what happens to our rights if the internet becomes increasingly dominated by private online communities (via the Blog of Rights)?