by Mary Catherine Roper

If you are regularly stopped by the Philadelphia police, you are probably a Black man. If you are not regularly stopped by police, you should watch this video of a stop by Philadelphia police. Go on, watch it. I’ll wait.

In the video, two Philly police officers pull their car over to stop two men who are walking down the street, apparently after they said hello to a third man on the street.

“You don’t say ‘Hi’ to strangers,” says one officer. The men are held against a police car, searched, threatened and repeatedly insulted by…


by Mary Catherine Roper

The United States Supreme Court decision in Fulton v. City of Philadelphia has raised a lot of questions about what the court’s ruling means for LGBQ&T families and individuals in Philadelphia, and across the country. While the decision is not what the ACLU of Pennsylvania was hoping for, it is a very narrow ruling that does not change the law for families outside of Philadelphia.

The court ruled against the city because of the way the court read the contract that existed between city and Catholic Social Services (CSS) in 2018. That contract is no longer…


by Terrell Thomas

Terrell Thomas speaks at a Campaign for Smart Justice coalition meeting (photo credit: ACLU of Pennsylvania)

Last month, state Representative Ed Gainey edged out Mayor Bill Peduto in the Democratic mayoral primary. Rep. Gainey is now on track to be elected as Pittsburgh’s first Black mayor in November, an event that has taken far too long in a city with a large Black population.

It is a historic moment.

In the months leading to the primary, I helped to convene a coalition of local grassroots groups, as well as regional, statewide, and national organizations, that met regularly and tirelessly organized to make sure that our policy issues were front and center in the…


by Reggie Shuford

Christian Hall walked to work, but he was studying to take his driver’s test and saving to buy a car. The future seemed bright. But on December 30, 2020, the 19-year-old was in distress and needed help.

According to his family, Christian was depressed about a recent breakup and feeling especially isolated after nine months of quarantine during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On that fateful December day, state police arrived at a section of I-80 to find Christian in the midst of a mental health crisis. The police claim that they shot Christian as he brandished a gun…


Photo Credit: James Daniel, ACLU

As we observe March as Women’s History Month, we are reminded of the importance of women in leadership, women’s rights, and the necessary work needed to keep moving the needle in the right direction toward women’s liberation and equality.

Women have held our families, communities, and our movements together. This month allows us to reflect on the abundance of accomplishments by women and moments in history where women have defied all odds and forced change for the benefit of future generations. …


Philadelphia police use “non-lethal” weaponry during demonstrations against police violence in June 2020.

by Mary Catherine Roper

For three days last spring, Philadelphia police brutalized peaceful protesters following the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The indiscriminate use of tear gas and “less-than-lethal” munitions like rubber bullets in a West Philadelphia residential neighborhood and the kettling and gassing of demonstrators on Interstate 676 became a national news story.

At the same time, Philadelphia police were permitting — even encouraging — white vigilantes to break the city’s curfew and roam the streets, often armed, to harass and threaten protesters. This disparity in treatment by police made international news.

In the immediate aftermath of the…


by Elizabeth Randol

One thing that is clear after the 2020 election and the ensuing lies and chaos fueled by the former president: attempts to undermine our democracy continue unabated in state capitols across the nation. As some GOP state legislators in Pennsylvania who sowed confusion and doubt about the results of the electoral college double-down on these lies, some pundits are speculating that this assault on democracy is only going to intensify in coming years.

Indeed, in Pennsylvania alone, no fewer than 14 pieces of legislation aimed at rolling back voting rights have been introduced so far this year…


by Reggie Shuford

Black History Month is a dedicated time every year to celebrate the achievements and contributions of Black Americans and to reflect on the long struggle to finally realize the constitutional promise of liberty and justice for all.

After the past year, with both scenes of horror and moments of hope, it feels especially important to take some extra time and space this month to reflect on the progress we’ve made in the fight for racial justice and the real challenges that remain ahead.

It was a year that saw Black Americans especially impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic…


by Reggie Shuford

Here’s a hard but undeniable truth: America has a short memory and a long tradition of revising history.

As we celebrate the life of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., in an annual reflection on his legacy that, at this point, feels as American as apple pie, it’s worth remembering that some members of Congress who opposed commemorating this day and honoring Dr. King are still in office and still making laws today.

Americans don’t just have a selective memory about the legacy of individuals, but also of institutions. How else to explain the deference and…


by Mary Catherine Roper and Andrew Christy

It’s no secret that, in far too many ways, the criminal justice system criminalizes being poor. From the widespread use of cash bail, to incarceration as a punishment for a failure to pay parking or traffic tickets or fees associated with probation or parole, the system is tilted against those who are living paycheck to paycheck or struggling to find work.

But even as we work to dismantle systemic injustices in the criminal justice system, some stakeholders are unwilling to go along.

That’s exactly what’s happening in Montgomery County.

In May of 2018…

ACLU of Pennsylvania

We are the ACLU’s Pennsylvania affiliate, defending the Constitution and the Bill of Rights through litigation, advocacy, and community education and outreach.

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