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November 12, 2013 at 9:51 AM
“If you like being free like me,” says rapper Macklemore, join the American Civil Liberties Union.
The Seattle-based superstar has launched a video on his Facebook page and promoted via his Twitter feed urging people to join the ACLU to protect precious personal freedoms.
In the 50-second spot, the rapper tells people to get the ACLU membership card, in part, because it “lets my gay friends marry the hell out of each other.”
“I’ve got a lot of things to do during the day,” he says on the video. “So something like being beaten with a club, pepper-sprayed, and tased for expressing my political views would really slow me down. That’s why I carry the ACLU card.”
Macklemore and his partner Ryan Lewis this year won a YouTube Music Award, a Billboard Music Award, and three MTV Video Music Awards, including Best Video with a Message for “Same Love.”
Macklemore said, ”The tireless work of the ACLU to preserve the freedoms of all people in our country inspires my music and my deepest connection to my human community.”
The video was produced by the ACLU of Washington in partnership with the Wexley School for Girls, a Seattle-based ad agency.
Kathleen Taylor, ACLU of Washington executive director, said, “Free speech, marriage for same-sex couples, and reproductive freedom – Macklemore addresses civil liberties issues that really matter to his fans and the ACLU. And he does so humorously and irreverently. That’s the beauty of it.”
According to an ACLU news release, Macklemore has 3.3 million Facebook fans and 1.7 million Twitter followers.
October 30, 2013 at 5:11 PM
The Seattle Community College District has tweaked the language of a proposed rule to regulate free speech on campus after the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington raised questions about the rule’s constitutionality last week.
The new language encourages off-campus groups to register with the college before engaging in free-speech activity on the campus. Previously, the rule required off-campus groups to register.
Last week, in a letter to the college, the ACLU voiced concerns that requiring registration before engaging in free speech was unconstitutional. ACLU spokesman Doug Honig said the group is reviewing the change.
In a letter to the college community, Chancellor Jill Wakefield said the ACLU voiced its concerns in a letter that arrived the afternoon before a public hearing, “when there was no time to incorporate and discuss any changes,” she said.
Wakefield said the new rules were drafted by a task force during a series of meetings that she praised as being collaborative. The rules, she wrote, make it clear that the district — North, South and Seattle Central community colleges — is “a limited public forum for First Amendment activities and are meant to provide a reasonable time, place, and manner for people to engage in First Amendment activities at the District. They also provide clarity around the use of the campus for First Amendment activities by both college and non-college groups.”
College officials decided they needed free speech rules after the Occupy Seattle movement made Seattle Central Community College its home base for several months in the fall of 2011. The new rule prohibits overnight camping.
The proposal will go to the school’s Board of Trustees Dec. 5 for a second reading and vote.
October 23, 2013 at 5:35 PM
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington (ACLU) says portions of a proposed new rule to regulate free speech on Seattle Community College District campuses is unconstitutional.
The Seattle college district – composed of North Seattle, South Seattle and Seattle Central community colleges – has been working on a new free speech regulation in the wake of the Occupy Seattle protests in fall 2011.
The trustees scrapped an earlier rule proposal after the ACLU said it was too broad, and student leaders and faculty members sharply criticized it.
Since that time, a task force has been meeting to draft a new rule, and held a hearing Tuesday on the proposal.
Don Bissonette, a faculty member who teaches English language learners and is a member of the task force that rewrote the regulation, said the committee didn’t share the ACLU’s concerns about the constitutionality of the rule. He said the committee’s focus was to write a regulation that prevented people from camping on campus, and the new regulation does that.
In an Oct. 21 letter to the college district’s Board of Trustees, ACLU attorney La Rond Baker took issue with the most recent proposal because it requires people and groups not affiliated with the college to sign in and provide a name before exercising free speech.
The rule “triggers constitutional concerns because it requires registration prior to engaging in the most basic and treasured form of protected political speech (i.e. flyering, handbilling, pamphleteering, proselytizing, etc.),” the letter says. That requirement would violate both the First Amendment and Washington’s constitution, according to the ACLU.
The proposal also runs afoul of free-speech protections because it requires groups not affiliated with the college to register only when a college administrator requests that they do so, the ACLU letter says. According to the ACLU, the rule is “an unfettered grant of discretion that allows the college to arbitrarily determine which groups will be subjected to prior restraint.”
That increases the chance that a group with an unpopular message will be required to register, a practice that’s forbidden by the First Amendment, the ACLU says.
Bissonnette said the committee “didn’t that that was really too egregious” to ask people to sign in before protesting. “I’m a member of the ACLU, and personally I don’t have a problem, and the committee didn’t have a big problem” with that part of the rule, he said.
College spokeswoman Patricia Paquette said that the ACLU’s comments would be considered and addressed in the next few weeks. The proposal will go to the school’s Board of Trustees Dec. 5 for a second reading and vote.
April 5, 2012 at 5:22 PM
The American Civil Liberties Union raised questions Wednesday about the constitutionality of proposed new rules that would regulate protests on Seattle Community College campuses.
The Seattle Community College District held the second of two public hearings on the proposal Wednesday. It was preceded by a campus protest.
According to the ACLU, the regulations impose prior restraint on people who wish to engage in free speech by requiring non-students to register with campus police 24 hours in advance.
“Washington courts have been very clear this violates the Constitution,” said Doug Honig, spokesman for the ACLU.
The proposal would also prohibit protesters from carrying more than one sign, and restrict the number of hours that a protest can take place. Both restrictions are “completely arbitrary,” Honig said.
The rules also would restrict non-student access to a very small area of campus, and ban protesters from distributing materials that advocate unlawful conduct.
“Under the restrictions they have written, Martin Luther King himself would have been prevented from handing out flyers that promote a peaceful sit-in on campus,” Honig said.
The district’s Board of Trustees will take up the rules later in the year.
January 26, 2012 at 11:12 AM
The Aberdeen School District has agreed to pay $100,000 to a former student who said he endured severe and persistent harassment throughout junior high and high school and that school officials were made aware of it but did nothing to end it.
The district reached the settlement with Russell Dickerson III, now 20, who is African American. The ACLU, which represented Dickerson, will receive $35,000 in legal fees.
In the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in Tacoma in December 2010, Dickerson said that from 2003 when he entered junior high until 2009 when he graduated high school, other students harassed him on the basis of his race, sex and perceived sexual orientation.
At Miller Junior High, Dickerson said he was called names by other students and found notes in his backpack and taped to his back calling him derogatory names. At Aberdeen High School, the harassment escalated.
He said students tripped him in the hallways and threw food at him in the cafeteria. In one incident, three students pushed him to the floor in the hallway and smashed a raw egg on his head; only one of the students was disciplined.
The lawsuit claimed that the deliberate indifference to ongoing harassment by the school district, which receives federal funds, violated federal civil rights and education laws. It claimed the district’s negligent inaction also violated the state’s anti-discrimination laws.
About The Today File
The Today File is a general news blog featuring real-time coverage of Seattle and the Northwest. It is reported by the news staff of The Seattle Times and edited by Assistant Metro Editor Nick Provenza.
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