The ACLU of Northern California recently raised its forceful voice to support a grassroots coalition defending civil liberties in the Bay Area. In a letter addressed to the mayor and City Council of Berkeley, CA, the ACLU joined with the Coalition for a Safe Berkeley and the Police Review Commission (PRC) in offering a variety of ways to “safeguard civil rights and civil liberties in the context of local/federal law enforcement collaboration.”
Advancing ideas similar to those promoted by the Local Civil Rights Restoration campaign, the ACLU asserts that “there is a clear need to for greater oversight and accountability” in regards to how local police departments, including the Berkeley Police Department (BPD), are funded and trained. Training provided to local police forces by federal agencies, such as the FBI, has been shown to encourage discrimination of minority groups by using exaggerated or false information about Muslims, African Americans, and Latinos. Ultimately, such misinformation dissemination, along with invasive information gathering tactics, can produce damaging–if not dangerous–results for any community.
The principal proposals set forth in the letter are for the Berkeley Police Department (BPD) to (1) sever its ties with the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center (NCRIC), a regional fusion center, (2) terminate its relationship with the Urban Area Security Initiative (UASI), which supports the militarization of police departments around the country, and (3) “cease enforcing immigration detainers under any circumstances.” The ACLU points out the threats that unmerited discrimination and blatant privacy violations from the BPD pose to the Berkeley community’s safety.