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On Display: "ACLU of North Carolina: Fifty Years of Protecting Liberty
Date: July 27 - Sept. 4
Location: Wilmington

Date: Sept. 7 - Nov. 30
Location: Chapel Hill

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A dangerous bill heading to Governor Pat McCrory would remove transparency from capital punishment in North Carolina. HB 774 would no longer require doctors to be present at executions and would allow the state to keep secret information about lethal injection drugs used to kill inmates.

Tell Gov. McCrory that executions carried out in the public's name must be transparent. Urge him to veto HB 774!

Horrifically botched executions in other states have demonstrated that we need more transparency, not less, when it comes to who is supervising executions and which drugs are being used to kill inmates.

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WILMINGTON, N.C. – The New Hanover County Public Library is hosting a 10-panel history exhibit, “ACLU of North Carolina: Fifty Years of Protecting Liberty,” that chronicles the American Civil Liberties Union’s work defending civil liberties in North Carolina since the founding of its North Carolina affiliate in 1965. The New Hanover County Public Library is located at 201 Chestnut Street in Wilmington.

The exhibit, which recounts the ACLU of North Carolina’s work on eight key civil liberties issues – free speech, voting rights, privacy rights, criminal justice reform, LGBT equality, women’s rights, racial justice, and religious liberty – is on display in Wilmington through September 4. It was previously displayed at the International Civil Rights Center and Museum in Greensboro and Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte and is scheduled to be on display at the Chapel Hill Public Library later this fall.

The ACLU of North Carolina was founded by a committed group of volunteers in Greensboro in 1965 to challenge North Carolina’s “speaker ban,” which prohibited so-called “radicals” from speaking at state universities; the ACLU-NC successfully challenged the law in court as a violation of the First Amendment. At the time, there were about 300 dues-paying ACLU members in the state. Fifty years later, the ACLU-NC boasts a full-time staff based in Raleigh and more than 10,000 members and supporters across the state. The organization has gone on to play a leading role in legal and advocacy campaigns to protect voting rights, secure the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, reform North Carolina’s criminal justice system, and defend many other civil liberties over the past 50 years.

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RALEIGH – North Carolina could hide the source of lethal injection drugs used to execute prisoners on death row under a bill approved by the state Senate today. HB 774 would also remove the requirement that a qualified physician be present at all executions and would instead allow any medical professional to assist in the execution. A version of the bill has already been approved by the House. The House will need to approve the Senate version before it heads to Gov. Pat McCrory.

“Horrifically botched executions in other states have demonstrated that we need more transparency, not less, when it comes to who is supervising executions and which drugs are being used to kill inmates,” said Sarah Preston, acting executive director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “North Carolina can’t hide behind a veil of secrecy when it carries out this ultimate and irreversible punishment. Courts, lawyers and the public have a right to know basic details about how the government executes inmates in their name. We urge Gov. McCrory to veto this bill in order to keep capital punishment transparent and spare the state costly legal challenges.”

Experimental, untested drug combinations were used in the horrifically botched and tortuous 2014 executions of Clayton Lockett (Oklahoma), Joseph Wood (Arizona), and Dennis McGuire (Ohio).

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Isabel Najera was excited to vote in her first election as a U.S. citizen in 2014. The North Carolina mother of four did everything right to cast a ballot that would count. She registered in time, went to the right polling place, and showed up to cast a ballot during early voting. But as she testified in federal court Tuesday, through no fault of her own, Isabel’s registration was lost and her vote did not count.   

Isabel is one of dozens of witnesses testifying this week and next in the trial over North Carolina’s voter suppression law, without which Isabel’s vote would have counted. The ACLU and Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions of the law that eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting, and a full week of early voting. Hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians used these voting options in previous elections before they were repealed by the state’s Legislature in 2013, in what many observers called the worst voter suppression law in the nation.   

Isabel was born in Mexico and came to the United States 21 years ago as a legal permanent resident. She worked as a migrant farm worker before getting a job with her local Head Start, teaching 2- and 3-year-olds life and socialization skills. While working, Isabel also earned her GED and eventually an associate’s degree in early childhood education.

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