What will be the fate of civil liberties?

What will be the fate of civil liberties?

An end-of-year message from the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund

Not everyone is willing to stand in uncompromising defense of the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.

Those of us who are willing must act now and act together.

The Partnership for Civil Justice Fund (PCJF) fights on the front lines to defend Civil Liberties and the Right to Dissent. And as a PCJF supporter, you know that when movements for progressive change take to the streets, we are there to defend them.

The PCJF has fought nationally to defend dissent – and we’ve had many victories. These victories would not be possible without your continued support.

Please give a year-end tax-deductible gift today to stand with the PCJF and advance the fight for civil rights.

If you're a first time donor, your gift will be doubled - thanks to a generous grant from the CS Fund, all first time gifts will be matched, dollar for dollar, up to $25,000!

We know that you share our commitment to fight for justice and to ensure that free speech is maintained as a cherished right and not treated as criminal activity.

The fate of civil liberties in this country is at a critical juncture. Our basic rights to privacy and dissent are threatened.

What we do right now will determine whether these fundamental and cherished freedoms will be preserved for future generations.

We are entering the coming year determined and prepared to fight for these rights. We need your help.

Please make a year-end tax-deductible donation today. We invite you to join our new sustaining gift program and make a recurring donation monthly or quarterly.

We are especially pleased to announce our new Partners for Justice program. With a donation of $500 or more, you become a member of PCJF's Partners for Justice and receive special invitations and insiders' updates.

As we look ahead to the next year, it is up to all of us – the PCJF, our supporters and allies – to continue the struggle for justice and to protect and defend human and civil rights.

You know that you can count on the PCJF to be vigilant in defending democracy in the courts and in the streets. And we count on you to be there with us – every step of the way.

Thank you for standing with the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund in the fight for social justice.

With warm regards,

Carl Messineo
Legal Director
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
Executive Director

Highlights of the PCJF’s Work Over the Past Year

Brooklyn Bridge
The PCJF has played a key role defending Occupy protesters brutalized and falsely arrested by the police.

▪    The PCJF has publicly released hundreds of documents showing the role of the Secret Service and the Department of Homeland Security in monitoring and gathering intelligence on the Occupy movement, as well as physically “protecting” the interests of Wall Street. Our persistent investigative work revealed the collusion by the federal government and corporate America in the vicious, nationwide coordinated crackdown on Occupy. PCJF obtained these documents through a Freedom of Information Act request working in collaboration with our ally author/filmmaker Michael Moore.

▪    In June, a federal judge ordered a class action lawsuit by the PCJF, Garcia, et al. v. Bloomberg, et al., to proceed on behalf of 700 people who were falsely arrested on the Brooklyn Bridge on October 1, 2011, just days after the start of the Occupy movement. In a major victory in defense of free speech, the court found that the New York City Police Department officers who conducted these false arrests could potentially be liable to the hundreds of arrested and jailed demonstrators.

▪    We provided countless hours of legal advice and support to attorneys around the country representing Occupy activists whom local government and police were attempting to unlawfully sweep from the public sidewalks and parks. In addition to undertaking the class action lawsuit over the Brooklyn Bridge mass arrests, we also took the New York City Police Department to court for brutally and unlawfully pepper-spraying peaceful demonstrators and turning sidewalks into unconstitutional arrest zones.

▪    We are working alongside civil rights attorneys in the Bay Area as class counsel challenging the constitutionality of similar police tactics used to “kettle” and mass arrest demonstrators protesting in Oakland, California.

Howard University panel Danny Glover
PCJF Executive Director Mara Verheyden-Hilliard (second from left) with Gloria La Riva, Martin Garbus, Danny Glover, Dean Okianer Christian Dark, Kurt Schmoke and Col. Lawrence Wilkerson in a recent Howard University panel on the case of the Cuban Five.

▪    When demonstrators converged on the Republican National Convention this past August, PCJF attorneys were on the front lines in Tampa, Florida, to protect demonstrators’ rights against a massive police presence intended to intimidate, criminalize and repress dissent.

▪    Our trainings and Know Your Rights resources empower political activists, community organizers and movement lawyers by providing key skills and tools to use in their work. This includes fact sheets on changes in the law that impact your right to protest; trainings on how to use the Freedom of Information laws in organizing campaigns; litigation skills trainings on doing police misconduct work; Know Your Rights street guides; and more.

▪    The PCJF launched the One Nation Under Surveillance campaign in August to expose and stop a mass surveillance grid put in place in the absence of public awareness, scrutiny, debate or oversight. Using an elaborate network of Automatic License Plate Recognition cameras, also known as tag readers, the government is now watching and recording your everyday travels, and storing years of your activities in massive data warehouses that can be quickly “mined” to find out when and where you have been, whom you’ve visited, meetings you’ve attended and activities you’ve taken part in. The PCJF conducted a multi-year investigation into this surveillance program. Our proactive campaign website at www.BigBrotherAmerica.org has the tools and information that you need to be informed and act now.

▪    The PCJF scored a major victory obtaining and making public the largest and most comprehensive release of D.C. police documents in the history of D.C.'s Freedom of Information Act. We had to overcome false affidavits filed under penalty of perjury by top police officials to lift the Metropolitan Police Department’s cloak of secrecy in the nation’s capital. This release of materials, posted at our dedicated website www.DCMPD.org, is allowing the community to engage in oversight and evaluation of police policies and procedures for the first time.

▪    The PCJF won a five-year-long free speech battle this month in federal court to overturn poster regulations used to target grassroots organizations in the District of Columbia. This marks an end to an illegal system where the District of Columbia government created a hierarchy of speech that favored politicians and punished grassroots and community groups. We also forced the District to rescind more than $70,000 in fines that it had levied and prosecuted in a targeted campaign against the ANSWER Coalition, an anti-war and social justice organization, for political postering. The PCJF defended the organization pro bono (without charge) for five years in administrative proceedings.

We are dedicated to the defense of human and civil rights secured by law, the protection of free speech and dissent, and the elimination of prejudice and discrimination.

And we get results.

For over 18 years, the attorneys of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund have carried out litigation, education and outreach work that has had groundbreaking impact around the country on police accountability for mass civil rights violations at demonstrations. The PCJF’s work has exposed federal law enforcement surveillance and spying on activists, and compelled government transparency on civil and human rights issues.

Please stand with us so that this critical work can continue – together we are making a difference.

Please take a moment now to support this important work and the other legal battles that we fight to protect activists and free speech! Your generous donation helps us continue this pro-bono work.