The veneer of polite racism has been stripped away. There can be no denying this duality within our country—that the democratic institutions so many of us believe in also contribute to the oppression of so many Black, Brown, and Indigenous people living in America, living in Oregon. This oppression has been exposed—again—for a new generation to challenge and change. This is work we all must do every day, everywhere, for everyone.
Four years ago, many of you joined with the ACLU to resist. And together we have! We filed more than 400 lawsuits against the Trump administration’s policies. We have been relentless in our defense of basic human rights from assaults by this administration and others.
Four years ago, we also suggested that there was opportunity to make significant progress on civil rights here in Oregon. And, together, we delivered. We worked with some of the people most impacted in our criminal justice system and, together, we brought about significant changes in Oregon policies:
We shined a spotlight the tremendous power of district attorneys, and showed that accountability for these elected officials was necessary and possible;
With a broad coalition, we successfully reformed sentencing laws to create a more humane youth justice system that focuses on accountability for youth and safety for our communities;
We reduced criminal penalties for drug possession through the legislature, and last month Oregonians approved M110 to treat addiction as a public health issue.
Our work to better protect the thousands of people from COVID who are in our prisons and jails wasn’t as successful as it needs to be. And that doesn’t mean we will stop this work; it means we must continue.
The ACLU works on so many issues because all of these rights are fundamental to being human; to living with dignity; to thriving. Our rights are indivisible; and our work to protect and advance our rights is multi-faceted.
Most importantly, we are shifting how we do our social justice work. True social justice will only come by centering the lived experiences of BIPOC and other oppressed people.
This is how a more perfect union will be built by all of us, for all of us.
I hope you will look through this annual report highlighting some of the important work we were able to engage in this past year, thanks to your support.
The ACLU’s work is not done. I hope you will stay with us as we enter 2021 ready to take on new, and many still unresolved, issues.
With deep appreciation,
Interim Executive Director