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Meeting of ACLU-NC's Western North Carolina Chapter
Date: Sunday, May 31
Location: Altamont Theatre, Asheville

Use of Deadly Force and Racial Profiling: What Can Be Done?
Date: Wednesday, June 3
Location: North Carolina Advocates for Justice, Raleigh

Statewide Membership Meeting
Date: Sunday, June 7
Location: Levine Museum of the New South, Charlotte

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By Chris Rickerd, ACLU Washington Legislative Office & Carolyna Caicedo Manrique, Staff Attorney, ACLU of North Carolina

According to Locke Bell, the district attorney of Gaston County, North Carolina, the ethnicity of a domestic-violence survivor can disqualify that person from equal protection under the law. The Charlotte Observer reports that Bell refused to certify a domestic violence survivor’s visa application because he thinks the relevant law protecting crime victims “was never intended to protect Latinos from Latinos.”

The controversy surrounds Evelin, a domestic violence survivor who courageously called police to press charges against her abusive boyfriend. She says he punched her, kicked her, and pulled her hair. Last week, he returned to her home after being deported, accused her of seeing another man, and repeatedly kicked her. Evelin reported the crime to the police and, as is her right, applied for a U visa.

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RALEIGH – The ACLU of North Carolina today launched Mobile Justice NC, a free smart phone app that allows North Carolinians to automatically record and submit cell phone videos to the ACLU of North Carolina when they believe law enforcement officers are violating civil rights.

Mobile Justice NC is available for use on Android and iOS phones in English and Spanish. The videos recorded by the app will be transmitted to the ACLU-NC and preserved even if the user’s phone is later seized or destroyed. 

“Our office receives hundreds of calls each year from people describing bad encounters with the police,” said Carolyna Caicedo Manrique, staff attorney for the ACLU of North Carolina. “This tool gives North Carolinians the ability to serve as a check on police abuse when they believe it is occurring, allowing users to record and document any interaction with law enforcement.”

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NEW YORK – The American Civil Liberties Union released the results of a poll today showing decisive support among North Carolina voters for substantive reform to the U.S. government’s surveillance practices. The survey, conducted jointly by a bipartisan pair of research firms, found nearly two-thirds of respondents in North Carolina believe that the Patriot Act should not be reauthorized in its current form. 

This support for reform remains constant regardless of party affiliation, age, or gender. Millennials and independents, in particular, favor reining in the government’s authority to surveil American citizens. The poll also found four in five North Carolina voters are concerned that the government is storing American’s personal information.

There was considerable consensus around several arguments in favor of strengthening Americans’ privacy rights. Eighty-three percent of respondents found it persuasive that the local police and the FBI should have a get a warrant in order to search phone and email records. Similarly, 80 percent believed that the government’s current ability to access personal conversations was a reason to implement reform. In addition, 73 percent favored protecting communication between pastors and their congregants from government surveillance.

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RALEIGH – The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of North Carolina is applauding new guidelines issued by North Carolina officials that allow the same-sex spouse of a woman who gives birth to a child during the marriage to be listed as a parent on the child’s birth certificate. The ACLU worked with the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) in developing the new guidelines.

“These new guidelines are important because they reflect North Carolina’s recognition that lesbian spouses can both be legal parents to children born to the couple,” said Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU of North Carolina. “Being able to have birth certificates that accurately reflect a child’s family will have important practical and psychological benefits for families. Married lesbian couples who have children will no longer face the challenge of trying to register their kids for school or get them a Social Security card without a birth certificate naming both parents, and their children will not have the insecurity of seeing only one of their two parents on their birth certificate.”

North Carolina Vital Records, which is responsible for the issuance of birth certificates and is housed within DHHS, allows a non-biological father to be listed on the birth certificate of a child born to his wife through donor sperm. Before the new guidelines were issued, married lesbian couples who had children the same way were told that the non-biological parent could not be listed on their child’s birth certificate upon the birth of the child. The ACLU worked with DHHS on the policy change after being contacted by many affected couples in the wake of North Carolina’s recognition of the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in October 2014.  

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