Posts Tagged ‘racial profiling’

BORDC releases model legislation to address domestic surveillance drones

Wednesday, April 17, 2013 at 10:17 am by

Drone State?This week, Bill of Rights Defense Committee is releasing model drone legislation to assist local communities and states in the growing battle against domestic surveillance drones. BORDC worked with the organizers across the country  who have been leading the opposition against rushed drone proliferation. The American Friends Service CommitteeAlameda County Against Drones, the No Drones Network,  and the Tenth Amendment Center all consulted on the language.

In response to the diversity of grassroots organizing efforts currently taking place, there are two models of the legislation. One creates a drone free zone, meaning it completely prohibits the use of drones over a city or county to the extent legally permissible. The other strictly limits the use of drones to specific situations. Both of the models contain significant explanations of why unregulated drone proliferation and use is so deeply concerning.  They also contain policy statements urging action at the state and federal level to restrict drone use.

The regulated use of drones model allows law enforcement to use drones only when they have obtained a warrant from a judge and they certify that drones are the least expensive and best option. It would also allow non-law enforcement missions, including search and rescue, fire response and prevention, and hazardous material spills but the language ensures that these exceptions will be strictly regulated.  Additionally, there are very strict auditing requirements and regulations on the use and destruction of data obtained via drones.  Portions of this model were contributed by civil rights lawyer David Frankel, representing a grassroots coalition called Aligning for Responsible Droning (“ARD”).

The need for action on drones right now is clear. As the prefatory clauses of the model legislation emphasize, drones have the potential to introduce ambient and persistent surveillance, meaning surveillance could be everywhere at all times and impossible to avoid. That’s because the drone technology ensures that specific and limited surveillance is impossible. When strict regulations are not imposed, drones can potentially catch images of everyday activity on their way to and from specific missions and law enforcement can use that information in any way they want. There is little incentive for law enforcement not to exploit this ability. What’s worse is that drone use will exacerbate the targeting of vulnerable groups by law enforcement.  Biased policing through the local enforcement of federal immigration laws, arrests for low level victimless crimes and racial and religious profiling will inevitably increase.

Because of the major concerns around domestic surveillance drones, activists and community leaders across the country have  begun to put the halt on unimpeded drone proliferation. Legislatures in at least 31 states have introduced measures to regulate, limit, or prohibit the use of drones for domestic surveillance. However, not all of the legislation has had the chance to get to a vote, and many of these bills contain significant loopholes. That is why action at the local level is opportune. Recently, Charlottesville, VA, became the first city to pass a resolution imposing a moratorium on drones, and called on state officials to implement a statewide moratorium.  Just this month, St. Bonaficius, MN, followed suit, outlawing the use of drones for up to 400 feet above the city. Similarly, as the result of the advocacy of the group Alameda County Against Drones the Public Protection Committee of the Alameda County Board of Representatives held a packed public hearing around Sheriff Greg Ahern’s purchase of a surveillance drone.

The surge in organizing around the domestic use of drones  has dovetailed with growing concern at the national level over the use of drones for so-called “targeted killings” overseas. Last year, in December 2012, representatives of various groups around the country created the Network to Stop Drone Surveillance and Warfare (NSDSW), a “nationwide grassroots network to stop drone surveillance and warfare.” The group’s national month of action in April has kicked off with demonstrations across the country, and has already helped increase awareness of the issues around domestic and foreign drone use. Joe Scarry of the No Drones Network and NSDSW, notes:

Starting with the protest at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada at the end of March, events and actions have taken place so far in Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Fayetteville, Ft. Wayne, Dayton, Chicago, Janesville, Minneapolis, San Francisco, and San Diego, and dozens more are planned throughout the month.

The month of action highlights three sets of institutions that encourage the proliferation of drone technology; drone manufacturers, colleges and universities conducting drone research, and military bases involved in operating drones.

Not content to rest with killing thousands of civilians overseas, the drone industy is seeking to expand their market by spying on Americans at home, and they have spent millions of dollars to lobby Congress to that effect. Drone manufacturers and their representatives have made it plain that they are willing to go to any length to ensure widespread adoption of their military technology. As demonstrated by the presence of a drone caucus in congress, elected officials are listening to them.

The good news, however, is that the time is ripe for local organizing. The drone lobby is far weaker in cities or counties, where BORDC’s model legislation is intended to be used. The models are organizing tools, and BORDC encourages local grassroots groups to edit and customize them as needed. With the availability of both models, as well as myriad resources in an annotated version of the legislation , these models can be used anywhere by anyone, including organizers without a legal or technical background.

BORDC is also available to consult on organizing campaigns. You can contact us at organizing [at] bordc [dot] org. Review our model legislation today, and join us in saying no to drone surveillance in your community!


The Fourth Amendment and Warrantless DNA Testing

Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 9:56 am by

Lady JusticeOn February 26, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case Maryland v. King, which raised the question of whether the Fourth Amendment permits warrantless DNA collection upon an individual’s arrest but without charge.  The case began on April 10, 2009, when Alonzo King was arrested for pointing a shotgun at a group of people.  He admitted his guilt, was originally charged with a felony assault and ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor.

At the time of King’s arrest, the police swabbed his mouth to gather a DNA sample, which matched DNA from an unsettled rape case four years prior – King was convicted of first-degree rape and sentenced to life in prison.  His warrantless DNA sample was the only evidence linking him to the rape case; the police had no probable cause to sample his DNA.  Patricia Millet, who heads the Supreme Court practice at Atkin Gump, explained this by saying ,”DNA is more commonly used not to identify the individual but to link the individual to other crimes for which he is not otherwise a suspect (or at least there is not probable cause to think he committed the other crime.”

There are several problematic facets to warrantless DNA collection, the first of which is that this specific form of testing appears unconstitutional according to our Fourth Amendment protections.  This is the ground on which the Supreme Court will determine whether police can conduct DNA testing upon arrest, but there are far more complex issues beyond the simple constitutionality of this sampling.

Invasion of Privacy

Justice Stephen Breyer argued that DNA tests are “no more intrusive” than fingerprints but “much more accurate.”  This is a gross overstatement on Breyer’s part – unlike fingerprints, DNA tracks an individual’s medical history, ancestry, gender – even whether or not an individual is adopted.  It is a wonder that Justice Breyer argued DNA tests are “much more accurate,” being that in 2011, over 10,500 DNA samples were taken, only 19 of which led to arrests.  Not only, then, are DNA samples fairly unproductive, resulting in a meager percentage of arrests, but they also expose some of our most personal information.

Racial Bias

DNA tests are already used as racial dragnets among whole families and communities of color, The Nation argues. Because the majority of individuals stopped by police are African American and Latino men, DNA samples taken in these instances are inherently skewed, representing a disproportionate number of men of color.  The Nation writes, “DNA is a value-neutral biological molecule, but DNA databases are mirrors that reflect the bias in justice systems.  By 2008, Britain’s National Database stored DNA from 27% of the black population and 77% of black males.” It is imposible to overstate the racial, age and gender bias present in DNA databases.


Kimani Gray and state-sanctioned terrorism

Friday, April 5, 2013 at 11:10 am by

On Saturday, March 23, 150 people filled St. Catherine of Genoa Church in Brooklyn to mourn the death of Kimani Gray.  Outside, police surveyed the scene from the street and from rooftop. On the night of March 9 in East Flatbush, Brooklyn, sixteen year-old Kimani Gray was walking home from a birthday party when he was shot and killed by two plainclothes policemen.   Many witnesses say that Gray “pleaded for his life” as the police fired eleven shots, seven of which hit him.


While Gray was simply returning from a birthday party with friends, the police no doubt “saw a gang,” rashly taking stock of the age, gender and race of the boys before them.  Some reports have argued that Gray allegedly pulled a .38 revolver on the officers (without firing), but at least one witness has denied that Gray drew any weapon.  Gray’s possible weapon possession has raised questions about his potential gang affiliation.  Any possession of firearms or gang affiliation on Gray’s part is irrelevant, though, and only detracts from the conversation—The tragedy of Gray’s murder, above all else, speaks to the unnecessary and dangerous militarization and surveillance of American ghettos.

Under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s stop-and-frisk programs, communities of color like East Flatbush have been subject to near-constant surveillance.  Rosa Squillacote of the Police Reform Organizing Project in New York City commented in the wake of Gray’s death, saying that as young men of color, they fear that “if [they] go outside, [they're] being watched.”  Her comment was specifically in response to stop-and-frisk programs, which operate on a racial bias (87% of those stopped by the NYPD in 2011 were black or Latino and weapons were found in less than 0.02% of those cases), but it applies to a broader state of living in New York City as well.

There exists a long history of police surveillance and profiling in lower-income, majority non-white neighborhoods in New York City.  This was evidenced in the nights following Gray’s death, when reporters noted scores of police surveilling his East Flatbush home.  Mere days after his death, the neighborhood was overrun: “Walking east along Church Avenue from Nostrand last Thursday afternoon, The Observer counted two police officers on every corner.”  Those police were allegedly there to manage the protests after Gray’s murder, but a similar scene would likely have greeted any passerby before Gray’s death.


NYPD on trial: Week 2

Tuesday, April 2, 2013 at 10:56 am by

The following update issued by the Center for Constitutional Rights was written by Director of Education and Outreach, Annette Warren Dickerson on April 1, 2013. Updates on the stop-and-frisk trial are available online throughout the proceedings.

The second week of the historic Floyd v. City of New York trial challenging the constitutionality of the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk program featured a shortened court schedule because the week was bookended by religious holidays. It was only fitting, therefore, that the week ended with faith leaders from a broad cross-section of the city’s many faith communities packing the courtroom and speaking about the negative impacts of stop and frisk on their communities.

In court, the bulk of the week’s testimony was from police officers and supervisors who had been involved in the illegal stops of our plaintiffs and witnesses. Skillful questioning by CCR and co-counsel lawyers laid bare contradictions in their stories, showed that the reasons they now cite for stops weren’t cited at the time, and revealed that supervisors failed to meaningfully review stops throughout the entire NYPD chain to ensure they were lawful.

One officer, Luis Pichardo, said that he was under direct pressure to make numbers — five summonses per tour, and specific numbers of stops and arrests — at the time he stopped CCR’s plaintiff Deon Dennis. Other officers had testified to the existence of quotas in week one, but Pichardo’s admission was particularly significant because he was a hostile witness.

One of the most significant developments of the week centered on a piece of evidence not actually introduced yet. On March 5, the NYPD’s chief of patrol issued a memo, “effective immediately,” requiring all officers to include an elaboration of the circumstances and factors involved in a stop in their paperwork. As it happens, this was the day after CCR filed its remedies brief in the case, which includes exactly this suggested revision of the UF 250 form in its list of injunctive reliefs sought. The city sought to introduce this memo into evidence. The judge indicated that it could not be introduced at this time because there was no officer present in court who could testify to it, but indicated that it would be in evidence once properly admitted.


Muslim Communities in NYC Regroup, Protest Surveillance

Friday, March 29, 2013 at 8:08 am by

Last year, the Associated Press won a Pulitzer Prize for revealing that New York City Police Department (NYPD) has spied on Muslim Americans, as well as their non-Muslim clients, customers and classmates over a decade both across the greater New York area and even well beyond its jurisdiction.

Today, impacted communities are continuing to respond. A lawsuit has been brought against the NYPD on behalf of Muslims in New Jersey, but has been delayed in court as lawyers for the city have asked the court to dismiss the case before examining evidence.

Further, on March 11, a coalition of Muslim groups, including the Muslim American Civil Liberties Coalition (MACLC) and the Creating Law Enforcement Accountability and Responsibility (CLEAR), delivered a report of the devastating consequences that spying has had on the people it targets.

The report is based on interviews with 57 American Muslims in the city and reveals that the spying, far from being secret, was fairly well known and has created a “pervasive climate of fear and suspicion.” The report details the impact on nearly every aspect of everyday life, from religious life to freedom of speech to relationships with law enforcement to forming friendships. The report concludes with a request to the NYPD to end its surveillance program and for the City Council to establish more oversight of the police.

One young woman said, “Even if we know we have rights, we know they don’t apply equally to everyone.”

The police have defended themselves by claiming that they were acting within constitutional limits. New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly outlined the principle of the surveillance program, which is, “In its effort to anticipate or prevent unlawful activity, including terrorist acts, the NYPD must, at times, initiate investigations in advance of unlawful conduct.”

Yet the head of the NYPD Intelligence unit admitted under testimony that the surveillance program had not produced any terrorism or criminal leads during his six year tenure. The intelligence department has reportedly cost the city $1 billion since 2001.

Despite these assaults on their rights, community members remain resilient. The recently-formed New York City Muslim Club is eschewing other organizations’ ban on talking politics. The club is out to participate in the next mayoral race, and is also campaigning for recognition of Muslim holidays in public school calendars. The club, as well as a separate AL Jazeera estimate, claims that as many as 10 percent of the city’s population is Muslim.

NYPD on Trial

Monday, March 25, 2013 at 7:28 am by

Last week, a historic trial challenging the NYPD’s practice of stopping and frisking almost exclusively people of color in New York City got underway.  Allies of Communities United for Police Reform packed the courtroom and hundreds filled overflow rooms to watch the realities of life under the NYPD in their neighborhoods and city be brought to light in federal court.

The trial was, as described by plaintiff’s attorney Darius Charney, 14 years in the making, with its roots in challenges to the police department’s policies after the shooting of Amadou Diallo.

On Monday March 18, both sides presented their opening arguments, with the plaintiffs laying out the evidence to come showing that the NYPD has engaged in a longstanding pattern and practice of unconstitutional and race-based stops.

The central legal claims of the plaintiffs are (1) that the NYPD has a policy or practice of stopping people without the reasonable suspicion that the Fourth Amendment requires and (2) that the NYPD stops people on the basis of race in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title VI.

The evidence supporting these claims is too voluminous to cover here, but several particular pieces stood out. In a meeting with NY State Senator Eric Adams, NYPD Police Chief Ray Kelly said the stop and frisk policy was designed to make young black and latino men afraid that they would be stopped wherever they left their buildings, so that “they would leave their guns at home.”


Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC’s March Newsletter

Thursday, March 21, 2013 at 9:27 am by

Constitution in Crisis

March 2013, Vol. 12 No. 03

View this newsletter as a webpage:

March 2013, Vol. 12 No. 03

View this newsletter as a webpage:

Paul leads filibuster of Brennan nomination to lead CIA

On March 6, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) forced a long overdue conversation in Washington about checks and balances on executive power by leading a bipartisan filibuster of John Brennan’s nomination to lead the CIA.


BORDC in the news

In the last month, BORDC and coalitions we support across the nation have appeared in various press outlets to promote concerns about constitutional rights and the powers of police and intelligence agencies that abuse them.

Read the latest news & analysis from the People’s Blog for the Constitution

Have you read BORDC’s blog lately? The People’s Blog for the Constitution has attracted a growing audience that has tripled over the past year. Featuring news & analysis beyond the headlines on a daily basis, it offers a great way to stay up-to-date and informed.

Highlights from the past month include:

BORDC’s Shahid Buttar speaks in Austin, TX

On Tuesday, March 5, BORDC’s Shahid Buttar spoke at the University of Texas School of Law in Austin. Hosted by the American Constitution Society, his talk, which was videotaped and is available online, addressed “Power and Accountability in the Post-9/11 era: torture, targeted killing, and domestic drone surveillance.”

BORDC hosts reception to celebrate recent Bay Area organizing victories

On Sunday, May 5, BORDC will host a reception in San Francisco celebrating the organization’s first decade of grassroots organizing to restore civil liberties, and several recent policy victories across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Grassroots News

March 2013 Patriot Award: Mary Madden

Every month, BORDC honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in his or her community to the movement to restore civil liberties and the rule of law. This month, the Patriot Award goes to Mary Madden for her extraordinary and committed activism and organizing.

Grassroots updates

To view campaigns supported by BORDC at a glance, visit our interactive campaign maps for local coalitions addressing surveillance and profiling by local law enforcement, or military detention under the NDAA. To get involved in any of these efforts, please email the BORDC Organizing Team at organizing (at) bordc (dot) org. We’re eager to hear from you and help support your activism!

          • Nationwide: Campaigns emerge to address domestic surveillance drones
          • Boston and Cambridge, MA: Diverse coalition takes action in several ways
          • Hartford, CT: Public education on how immigration enforcement could undermine civil liberties
          • New York City, NY: Residents gather to challenge drones and detention, while lawsuit proceeds vs. NYPD stop-and-frisk profiling
          • Annapolis, MD: Statewide coalition challenges NDAA, plans upcoming discussion event
          • Asheville, NC: Coalition mobilizes to support proposed Civil Liberties Ordinance
          • Cleveland, OH: Coalition launches monthly vigils, bus tour, and petitions
          • Chicago, IL: Coalition mobilizes to challenge suppression of dissent, anti-immigrant profiling
          • Madison, WI: New coalition initiates public education campaign
          • Helena, MT: House votes unanimously to approve bill vs. NDAA
          • Los Angeles, CA: Coalition plans community mobilization for upcoming Police Commission meeting
          • San Francisco, CA: The 18th city to say “No!” to indefinite detention under the NDAA
          • Seattle, WA: Community considers racial profiling and drones
          • Friday Harbor, WA: Coalition organizes educational forum

Law and Policy

Bipartisan legislation introduced to curtail domestic surveillance drones

Earlier this month, Representatives Ted Poe (R-TX) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA) introduced the Preserving American Privacy Act of 2013 (HR 637), a bipartisan bill that would establish basic legal ground rules for the domestic use of unmanned drone aircraft. The principles now governing searches by this new technology are vague, and the clarity of this bill would greatly benefit both police and the public.

CISPA threatens military control of domestic cybersecurity

The Cyber Information and Sharing Act (CISPA) was first introduced last year by Representatives Mike Rogers (R-MI) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD). It prompted widespread opposition, including a veto threat from President Obama, in addition to a petition with over 800,000 signatures, and a widespread online campaign dubbed “Stop Cyber Spying Week.” Nonetheless, CISPA is back.

Immigration enforcement: a Trojan horse?

Calls for comprehensive reform of federal immigration law have prompted a bipartisan debate on Capitol Hill. Most observers, however, have overlooked how stronger immigration enforcement could undermine the rights of not only immigrants, but also US citizens.

DC Circuit Court forces CIA to at least acknowledge documents about drones

On March 15, the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit ruled that the CIA must respond to a FOIA request by the ACLU seeking information about the targeted killing program using drone aircraft. While the decision does not require the actual disclosure of the documents, which the lawsuit will now move on to address, it does represent a rare example of the federal judiciary standing up to government secrecy and asserting an independent check and balance.

National Security Letters held unconstitutional

On March 15, a federal judge in California struck down National Security Letters (NSLs) as unconstitutional violations of free speech. US District Judge Susan Illston ordered the Justice Department and FBI to stop issuing NSLs, which are unilateral demands for private information unsupported by a judicial warrant, and also ordered them to stop enforcing gag orders attached to NSLs in other cases.

US Supreme Court places NSA above the law in Clapper v. Amnesty

On February 26, 2013, the US Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to allow warrantless wiretapping to continue. The controversial decision places the National Security Agency (NSA) above the law and insulates it from judicial review.

New Resources and Opportunities

Join the struggle for Due Process vs. domestic military detention under NDAA

The transpartisan grassroots movement against the domestic detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is growing. Nearly 20 cities have passed resolutions supporting Due Process, and organizers are using Facebook to help build statewide campaigns in several states.

BORDC to host spring convenings in the Northeast and Bay Area

BORDC supports grassroots organizers as they build diverse coalitions seeking local protections and civil rights and civil liberties. A pair of upcoming convenings offer opportunities for organizers to travel to the Northeast in April, or Bay Area in May, to share skills and case studies with allies from other cities.

Micro-grants offer opportunities for grassroots action

To help encourage outreach, public education, and grassroots mobilization, BORDC has provided micro-grants to coalitions that have participated in one of BORDC’s anchor convenings, such as the May 2012 convening in Chicago. Grants of $300 to $500 are available to help active coalitions expand their local visibility, host events, or build capacity.

Video: racial profiling by Customs & Border Protection

Tuesday, March 12, 2013 at 10:26 am by

On March 5th, the Rights Working Group released the second video in its series Faces of Racial Profiling. This video captures the testimony of Julio Martinez, whose mentally impaired son Alex, a U.S. citizen, was killed by Customs & Border Protection (CBP) officers in Washington state.

Martinez states that in February of 2011, he called 911 to request that his son be taken to a hospital. However, because Julio was speaking Spanish, it was CBP agents who responded to the call. When Alex tripped, holding a flashlight, and fell on an agent, he was shot dead.


Immigration enforcement: a trojan horse?

Wednesday, March 6, 2013 at 10:25 am by

Comprehensive immigration reform, along with the fiscal cliff and sequester, has recently dominated Washington. But observers have overlooked how calls for stronger immigration enforcement could undermine the rights of not only immigrants, but also US citizens.

Conservative members of Congress have demanded tighter enforcement as a condition of considering meaningful reform of federal immigration policy. But enforcement-first immigration reform could wreak havoc with the fundamental liberties of citizens. If libertarians recognized how conservative policy proposals threaten their interests, the debate could shift dramatically.

What enhanced immigration enforcement could look like

Immigration enforcement takes primarily two forms: border security and interior enforcement. Each poses a threat to Americans who value their own freedom. The border security debate hides the most severe potential pitfalls, only because the privacy implications of interior enforcement have at least been discussed in public.

Many conservatives want to lock down our borders even more than our federal agencies already have. Yet American’s borders have never been more secure. In 2012, our government spent $18 billion on civil immigration enforcement, more than combined spending on all agencies that enforce criminal laws.

Proposals to further tighten border security have included increasing the deployment of domestic surveillance drones, expanding immigration checkpoints, building a fence, and adding more agents to the already bloated rosters of CBP and ICE.

Beyond border security is interior enforcement, which Bush and Obama both escalated, reflected in record numbers of deportations. Recent proposals emphasize technology: the controversial E-verify program to force employers to enforce federal immigration law, or similar programs like 287(g), Secure Communities, or the Next Generation Initiative, which co-opt local police and undermine public safety.

Confused premises

Whether at the border or within the US, the demand for tighter enforcement ignores reality: net migration across the southern border has already turned negative, driven by harsh profiling, alongside continuing stagnation in job growth, which has made immigration less economically attractive.

In other words, tighter border security and enhanced interior enforcement are unnecessary, at best. According to Marc Rosenblum from the Congressional Research Service, “additional investments at the border may be met with diminishing returns.”

Beyond diminishing returns, enhanced border security could prove nightmarish — not just for undocumented families, but also US citizens. Border security could diminish our own freedom to travel, while interior enforcement poses a covert threat to privacy.


Constitution in Crisis :: BORDC’s February Newsletter

Thursday, February 21, 2013 at 4:19 pm by

Constitution in Crisis

February 2013, Vol. 12 No. 02

View this newsletter as a webpage:

CIA nominee Brennan ducks Senate question on torture, assassination without trial

On Thursday, February 7, the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) held a hearing on the nomination of John Brennan to lead the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). BORDC live tweeted the hearing, and Executive Director Shahid Buttar attended the first five minutes of the hearing, before Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) removed the public after repeated criticism of Brennan’s record on torture, human rights, and arbitrary assassination.


BORDC in the news

In the last month, BORDC and coalitions we support across the nation have appeared in various press outlets to promote concerns about constitutional rights and the powers of police and intelligence agencies that abuse them.

Read the latest news & analysis from the People’s Blog for the Constitution

Have you read BORDC’s blog lately? The People’s Blog for the Constitution has attracted a growing audience that has tripled over the past year. Featuring news & analysis beyond the headlines on a daily basis, it offers a great way to stay up to date and informed.

Highlights from the past month include:

CIA nominee Brennan latest official asked to declassify Senate report condemning torture

The first task of the incoming CIA Director will be to declassify a 6,000 page report on torture compiled by the SSCI based on a three year investigation. BORDC’s online petition calls on the President to declassify the report and enable its release to the public and the press, as required by his repeated pledges to promote transparency.

BORDC expands capacity in 2012

Thanks in part to record contributions from individual supporters like you, BORDC’s budget grew an astounding 60% in 2012! We expanded our vital work, but were able to do so only because our donors made the important choice to get involved.

Grassroots News

February 2013 Patriot Award: Peggy Littleton

Every month, BORDC honors an individual who has made an outstanding contribution in his or her community to the movement to restore civil liberties and the rule of law. This month, the Patriot Award goes to Peggy Littleton, from El Paso County, CO, for her longstanding commitment to civil liberties.

Grassroots updates

To view campaigns supported by BORDC at a glance, visit our interactive campaign maps for local coalitions addressing surveillance and profiling by local law enforcement, or military detention under the NDAA. To get involved in any of these efforts, please email the BORDC Organizing Team at We’re eager to hear from you and help support your activism!


Law and Policy

Appeals court hears arguments on indefinite military detention under NDAA

On Wednesday, February 6, the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit heard oral arguments in Hedges v. Obama, a lawsuit challenging domestic military detention authority under the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of 2012.

BORDC joins in asking Supreme Court to protect email privacy

BORDC has joined an amicus brief, filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) calling for the Supreme Court to hear a case that could strengthen privacy protections for anyone who uses e-mail.

FAA expands drone authorizations, while some cities fight back

In response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has recently released an updated list of jurisdictions in which drone use is now authorized across the country.

New Resources and Opportunities

BORDC to host spring convenings for organizers in the Northeast and Northwest

BORDC supports grassroots organizers as they build coalitions seeking to advance Local Civil Rights Restoration (LCRR) and to challenge the indefinite detention provisions of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Micro-grants offer opportunities for grassroots action

To help encourage outreach, public education, and grassroots mobilization, BORDC has provided micro-grants to coalitions that have participated in one of BORDC’s anchor convenings, such as the May 2012 convening in Chicago. Grants of $300 to $500 are available to help active coalitions expand their local visibility, host events, or build capacity.