ACLU and LGBT Groups Call on President Obama to Grant Clemency To Chelsea Manning

ACLU and LGBT Groups Call on President Obama to Grant Clemency To Chelsea Manning

WASHINGTON, DC — The American Civil Liberties Union and over a dozen LGBT groups sent a letter to President Barack Obama today urging the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence for disclosing classified information to the media to raise public awareness regarding the impact of war on innocent civilians. Manning is in the seventh year of a 35-year sentence.

Ian Thompson, ACLU legislative representative, offered the following statement:

“Ms. Manning is the longest serving whistleblower in the history of the United States. Granting her clemency petition will give Ms. Manning a first chance to live a real, meaningful life as the person she was born to be.”

The letter reads, “Manning, a transgender woman who is being forced to serve out her sentence in an all-male prison, has been subjected to long stretches of solitary confinement – including for attempting suicide – and denied necessary medical treatment related to her gender dysphoria. The Army even opposed her request to use her legal name and to be referred to by female pronouns. While the armed forces have finally opened the door to transgender men and women who wish to serve, the government has continually fought Ms. Manning’s efforts to be treated with basic dignity.”

The following groups signed the letter:

American Civil Liberties Union
BiNet USA
COLAGE
Family Equality Council
FORGE, Inc.
GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders
Immigration Equality
KhushDC
Lambda Legal
League of United Latin American Citizens
Los Angeles LGBT Center
National Black Justice Coalition
National Center for Lesbian Rights
National LGBTQ Task Force
National Organization for Women
Pride at Work
Transgender Law Center

The letter can be found HERE

A petition on the White House’s “We the People” platform, asking President Obama to commute Chelsea Manning’s sentence to time served, has garnered over 40,000 signatures. Last week, Amnesty International sent a letter to President Obama also supporting that Chelsea Manning’s sentence be commuted to the time she has already served in prison.

For more information, please visit: https://www.freechelsea.com

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

45 Organizations Form Growing Coalition Against Hate, Urge Trump to Eject Extremists from Inner Circle 

Last week the Coalition Against Hate released the discriminatory records of individuals who have been raised as potential appointees or senior staff in a Trump administration with deep ties to racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia. The Coalition urges Donald Trump to eject known extremists from his inner circle, such Senator Jeff Sessions, Representative Mike Pompeo, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn, Steve Bannon, Laura Ingraham and Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach.

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Request Commutation of Sentence, Supporters Launch White House Petition

Chelsea Manning’s Lawyers Request Commutation of Sentence, Supporters Launch White House Petition

Washington, DC — Today, Chelsea Manning’s legal defense team released a letter sent to the U.S. Army and the Office of the Pardon Attorney, requesting the commutation of Ms. Manning’s 35 year court-martial sentence to time served and “a first chance to live a real, meaningful life.” The letter discusses the harsh and inhumane conditions Ms. Manning was subjected to in unlawful pretrial solitary confinement for nearly a year.
Specifically, the application highlights the 11 months that Ms. Manning spent in solitary confinement before her trial. The first two months of that confinement was spent in the dark, in a cage inside of a tent, in 105 degree temperatures, in Kuwait. Following her confinement in Kuwait, Ms. Manning spent the next nine months of solitary confinement forced to sit upright, staring straight ahead at the wall, all day, every day.

View the full clemency letter sent to the Secretary of the Army and the Pardon Attorney for the President HERE

“After accepting full responsibility for her choices, Ms. Manning was sentenced to the most severe punishment received by any other whistleblower in American history, so excessive that it even exceeds international legal norms,” said attorney Vince Ward, one of the lawyers representing Chelsea in her appeal of her court martial.. “President Obama has the opportunity to right this wrong and commute her sentence to time served and we hope that he’ll give Chelsea a chance to live her life after her courageous act to raise public awareness about the impact of war on innocent civilians.”

“Chelsea was bullied in the Army because she is transgender and  she has faced ongoing abuses and the denial of health care since her incarceration,” said Chase Strangio, an attorney representing Chelsea Manning in her civil case against the Department of Defense. “For years she served under Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and then the ban on open transgender service and she has fought to exist as the woman that she is; she deserves to be free and given the health care that she needs, not punished.”

View the newly-launched petition here: http://tinyurl.com/chelseatimeserved

Manning supporters also launched a petition on the WeThePeople platform, calling for President Obama to act now to commute Chelsea’s sentence. Evan Greer, campaign director at Fight for the Future, a digital rights group that has supported Chelsea while in prison, said, “Chelsea Manning has suffered unimaginable abuses at the hands of the U.S. government, all for trying to help people and do the right thing. Unless President Obama acts now to release her, the government’s persecution of Chelsea will go down in history as one of the darkest and most shameful misdeeds of this administration.”

In their amicus brief, the Open Society Justice Initiative argues that the 35-year sentence imposed on Ms. Manning far exceeds international legal norms and should be reduced. Drawing on a survey of law and practice in 30 countries, it notes that Ms. Manning’s sentence is “far higher than the penalties that our closest allies would consider proportionate.” In the U.K, for example, the crimes of which Ms. Manning was found guilty carry a maximum penalty of 2 years in jail.

Chelsea wrote about her time in solitary confinement for The Guardian, in May 2016.

For interviews with the Chelsea Manning defense team, please contact Christina DiPasquale, 202.716.1953 or christina@balestramedia.com

Community Control Over Police Surveillance Effort Launches with First Wave of Legislation in 11 Cities

Community Control Over Police Surveillance Effort Launches with First Wave of Legislation in 11 Cities

NEW YORK — Local officials in 11 cities announced today that they are launching legislative efforts to bring transparency to the acquisition and use of local police surveillance technologies for the first time. The measures include mandating explicit city council approval and a public hearing process that maximizes community input into surveillance technology decisions. This locally-led, multi-city effort was developed in partnership with 17 highly-diverse national partner organizations, including the American Civil Liberties Union, the NAACP, The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Campaign Zero, and the Tenth Amendment Center.

In the rare cases where local police data has been available to the public — in cities like Baltimore, MarylandOakland, California; and Lansing, Michigan — the data has shown a disproportionate use of surveillance technologies in communities of color and low-income areas. The partner organizations have created a set of guiding principles to assist community groups in changing surveillance practices. The principles aim to promote transparency, democratic decision making, and community empowerment with respect to if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, and used.

01.) Predictive policing software uses mathematical and analytical techniques to attempt to predict future criminal activity, offenders, and victims. Historically biased data is input into an algorithm of unknown accuracy, which produces biased results that will only continue the trend of over-policing communities of color and low-income communities.

The first wave of cities announcing legislative efforts today are:

Hattiesburg, Mississippi
Madison, Wisconsin
Miami Beach, Florida
Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Muskegon, Michigan
New York, New York
Palo Alto, California
Pensacola, Florida
Richmond, Virginia
Seattle, Washington
Washington, D.C.

“The use of surveillance by local police has been spreading unchecked across the country without regard for the communities that they purport to serve,” said Anthony D. Romero, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union. “Today communities and their local elected officials are taking action to address the disparate impact, financial burden, and threats to civil rights and liberties posed by invasive surveillance technologies.”

02.) Biometric technologies allow you to be identified and tracked using a physical trait, run against DMV, social network, and other databases. Technological limitations and biased engineering practices can lead to false-positives, especially amongst people of color, which results in innocent people unjustifiably drawing the attention of law enforcement.

“Local police surveillance technologies, which are disproportionately focused on African Americans and other people of color, are hurting our communities and undercutting the trust necessary for law enforcement to be effective. These technologies are invading our public spaces and creating a culture of fear,” said Hilary Shelton, director of the NAACP’s Washington Bureau and its senior vice president for advocacy and policy. “We need to maximize the active engagement and influence our local communities have over surveillance technology decision-making. This first wave of legislative efforts being taken today across the country is a critical first step to moving local surveillance out of the shadows, ensuring transparency and accountability, and protecting the civil rights of all Americans.”

“People of color have long been the targets of government surveillance — but today’s technology makes it more concerning than ever,” said Alvaro Bedoya, founder and executive director of the Center on Privacy and Technology at Georgetown University Law Center. “Communities are being confronted with the very real possibility that law enforcement is tracking them wherever they go — at work, school, places of worship and political gatherings. People need to feel safe in their neighborhoods, and this new effort is an important step in the process of taking back control.”

03.) Aerial view of Baltimore from Persistent Surveillance’s Cessna aircraft. | Photographer: Philip Montgomery for Bloomberg Businessweek

This surge of legislative action, which is expected to be replicated in an increasing number of cities across the nation, is guided by the following principles:

  1. Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without express city council approval.
  2. Local communities should play a significant and meaningful role in determining if and how surveillance technologies are funded, acquired, or used.
  3. The process for considering the use of surveillance technologies should be transparent and well-informed.
  4. The use of surveillance technologies should not be approved generally; approvals, if provided, should be for specific technologies and specific, limited uses.
  5. Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without addressing their potential impact on civil rights and civil liberties.
  6. Surveillance technologies should not be funded, acquired, or used without considering their financial impact.
  7. To verify legal compliance, surveillance technology use and deployment data should be reported publically on an annual basis.
  8. City council approval should be required for all surveillance technologies and uses; there should be no “grandfathering” for technologies currently in use.

The national partners in this effort are:

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)
Bill of Rights Defense Committee/Defending Dissent Foundation
Campaign Zero
Center for Democracy & Technology
Center for Popular Democracy
Council on American–Islamic Relations (CAIR)
Crypto Harlem
Demand Progress
Electronic Frontier Foundation
Fight for the Future
The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights
Million Hoodies Movement for Justice
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
National Network of Arab American Communities
Restore the Fourth
South Asian Americans Leading Together (SAALT)
Tenth Amendment Center

Additional resources and information can be found here: www.communityCTRL.com