On behalf of the ACLU of Oregon family, I want to thank you for your energy, engagement, and unwavering support of our work to protect and advance our fundamental freedoms during one of the most challenging periods our country has ever faced.
Over the past year, we have fought tirelessly to resist the Trump Administration’s attacks on our community. It is hard to imagine that it has been just a year since the election. It is as if Trump has transformed time into dog years with his relentless attacks on civil rights and liberties.
We knew a Trump presidency posed an existential threat to so many of our communities and to the values of equity, inclusion, and justice that should drive our country’s policies. In many ways our collective fears have proven true.
The administration is pushing thinly-veiled religious exclusions for immigration and refugee status that defies our value of religious liberty and demonizes Muslims and non-Christians. The president is diligently trying to chip away at existing protections of reproductive freedom, while also dismantling protections for LGBT people.
And if that is not enough, his Attorney General is attempting to ramp back up the war on drugs and the policies of mass incarceration and institutional racism while abdicating DOJ’s responsibility to hold local law enforcement agencies accountable for profiling and misconduct.
There are things happening right now that feel like some sort of dystopian narrative. But we are not dreaming and this is no movie. It’s the state of this country right now. It’s reality.
The truth is that I could go on at great length about the threats we are facing and how scary it is. But when looking back over the past year, there is also a great deal that makes me hopeful and optimistic. So bear with me. I wanted to first acknowledge the intensity of what we are facing, but I am actually optimistic. This annual report features many victories.
The commitment the ACLU of Oregon made a year ago was that we were ready to fight. And that we would be ready for not just for the defensive battles ahead but that we would refuse to get stuck solely in a defensive posture. I argued that in Oregon, we could push forward proactive policies and be a beacon of light for other parts of the country.
We have had such incredible success in both our resistance to tyranny but also in creating new opportunities to advance justice in Oregon. And our successes are all thanks to you and our collective resistance.
So yes, I am optimistic and I hope this annual report will also leave you optimistic as well. All of this and more was done in the Trump era. Look and see what we have done together. What all of us have done, to rise to this moment.
Thank you for standing with us, and, as always, we’ve got your back.
GROWTH IN MEMBERSHIP
This year, our membership has grown dramatically and we are now at a record high number of members in Oregon. We saw surges in our membership immediately following the 2016 election, the inauguration, and the executive order banning Muslim people and refugees from traveling to the United States. Oregonians are joining the ACLU to be part of the resistance to the regressive policies of the Trump administration and to take a tangible step to protect the rights and liberties that are promised in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution.
We are not waiting for a rainy day to get to work with these new resources and supporters because the storm is here. We are thankful for each and everyone one of our new members, as well as for the members who have helped to build the ACLU into what it is today, the nation’s most powerful guardian of liberty and freedom.
ACLU BY THE NUMBERS
REQUESTS FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE
FOLLOWERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Each legislative session, the ACLU of Oregon is an everyday presence at the state capitol in Salem. We act as a watchdog for civil liberties and civil rights by reviewing hundreds of proposed laws and by providing expert advice and testimony on issues like privacy, reproductive justice, youth rights, LGBT rights, immigrant rights, police practices, and criminal justice reforms. Our growing membership is active and engaged at the state level, and the responses to our email Action Alerts and Lobby Day participants help legislators understand that freedom has many defenders in our state! In addition, we work in coalition with other like-minded groups and legislators to push proactive legislation that defends or advances the freedoms and liberties we hold dear.
In 2017, we saw unprecedented attacks from the Trump administration on immigrant rights, reproductive rights, voting rights, and more, as well as an attempt to rollback the clock on the failed War on Drugs. Yet, here in Oregon, we have not only provided resistance, but have been able to continue to push the bar forward in many of our issue areas. For example, despite the threats from Washington D.C., our state Legislature passed landmark legislation to protect access to reproductive health care and to make significant reforms to our criminal justice system. In addition to protecting Oregonians, these victories also provide hope, and a roadmap for other states, nationwide.
While Oregon is the only state without any legal limitations on abortion, we recognize that many people here still face significant roadblocks to accessing reproductive health care. We remain committed to our work towards reproductive justice so that every Oregonian can decide whether and when to have children without political interference, and enjoy access to the full range of reproductive health care without facing discrimination or economic hardship.
We are incredibly proud of our work to pass the Reproductive Health Equity Act (RHEA). The landmark legislation locks in no-cost coverage for preventative care – including vasectomy and abortion; prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity; codifies the right to abortion in state law; and extends postpartum care coverage to those who have been traditionally denied based on citizenship status.
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM
We are committed to working proactively to reduce our overreliance on incarceration, reduce racial disparities, and move toward a justice system that emphasizes treatment, prevention, and helping people rebuild their lives. Despite significant opposition, we helped to pass landmark criminal justice reform legislation to address profiling by law enforcement and defelonize low-level drug possession; require the recording of grand jury proceedings; and enact sentencing reform and expand rehabilitation programs in order to reduce overincarceration and prevent the opening of a new women’s prison.
Other important criminal justice reform victories include ending the storage of recreational marijuana customer information to prevent data sharing with drug enforcement or other improper uses; removing marijuana from our state Controlled Substances Act; creating a Certificate of Good Standing to help people with criminal records show employers, landlords, and others that they have successfully rehabilitated; and reducing the criminalization of public transit riders.
BY THE NUMBERS
18BILLS LOBBIED AGAINST THAT DIED
BILLS LOBBIED AGAINST THAT DIED
29BILLS SUPPORTED THAT PASSED
BILLS SUPPORTED THAT PASSED
66TESTIMONIES AT HEARINGS
TESTIMONIES AT HEARINGS
230ACLU LOBBY DAY ATTENDEES
ACLU LOBBY DAY ATTENDEES
1348POSTCARDS SENT TO ELECTED OFFICIALS
POSTCARDS SENT TO ELECTED OFFICIALS
17684ACTION ALERTS SENT TO LEGISLATORS
ACTION ALERTS SENT TO LEGISLATORS
Our work in the courts is the most powerful tool at the ACLU’s disposal to defend people’s rights and demand adherence to the rule of law. This year, we’ve effectively used impact litigation to win significant victories for vulnerable and targeted groups, to push back on regressive ballot initiatives, to defend free speech rights, and to shape the public understanding of the most pressing issues of the day.
Our legal team is committed to remaining nimble during these challenging times and has stepped up to the plate in new ways, particularly on immigrant rights, protester rights, and the rights of transgender and gender nonconforming people. Employing diverse strategies such as strategic demand letters, public records requests, and media work, the legal team continues to find creative ways to force government actors to rethink their approach and uphold the rights of all Oregonians.
WE SUED TRUMP
Less than a month after taking office, President Trump attempted to make good on his xenophobic campaign promises by signing an executive order to exclude refugees and people from seven Muslim-majority countries. We are proud to have been among the 55 lawsuits nationwide challenging the Muslim Ban 1.0, filing on behalf of our allies at Unite Oregon, an immigrant and refugee-led advocacy organization. By filing a lawsuit, we were able to show the world that Oregonians reject Trump’s inhumane orders that target and exclude Muslims and refugees.
We also joined ACLU national and 49 other ACLU affiliates in filing coordinated FOIA requests with U.S. Customs and Border Protection to determine if they were defying the nationwide federal court orders that blocked President Trump’s unconstitutional Muslim ban.
Our work to protect the rights of protesters has ramped up in the last year, as more and more people take to the streets to express dissent. All too often, protesters find themselves confronted by a highly militarized and violent police response, especially in Portland, the state’s largest city. We have spoken out repeatedly about police practices that chill speech and expression, including the use of so-called “less-lethal” weapons like chemical irritants, rubber bullets, and flash-bang grenades.
We are working on a group of impact cases for protester rights, to ensure that democracy is protected in this area. To start, we filed a class-action lawsuit on behalf of 200+ people who were held in a police “kettle” this summer while protesting an “alt-right” gathering following the horrific MAX train murders in Portland. Kettling is a tactic whereby protesters are blocked into an area by police and not allowed to leave. In this instance, everyone caught in the kettle was photographed by police and required to show ID before they were released, including legal observers, members of the media, and bystanders.
The Northern Oregon Regional Correctional Facility (NORCOR) is a multi-county jail in The Dalles. Since April, volunteer attorneys have been investigating the cruel and inhumane conditions of confinement there on behalf of the ACLU of Oregon, and a local organizing effort led by clergy and the Gorge ICE Resistance has put continued pressure on the jail administrators and local lawmakers.
The immigration detainees have gone on two hunger strikes to call attention to their plight. We have closely monitored their hunger strikes, and have written several demand letters outlining the violations at the jail.
TRANS ID CLINIC
In response to threats to LGBT people from the Trump administration, we recommended that transgender and gender nonconforming Oregonians get their identity documents in order ahead of any possible policy changes. We provided free training to volunteer attorneys and, with help from community partners, matched them with 77 clients who needed help obtaining court orders for name and gender marker changes and updating their important documents such as passports and social security cards.
BY THE NUMBERS
17DIRECT REPRESENTATION CASES
DIRECT REPRESENTATION CASES
77TRANSGENDER ID CLIENTS
TRANSGENDER ID CLIENTS
1079COOPERATING ATTORNEY HOURS
COOPERATING ATTORNEY HOURS
2166REQUESTS FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE
REQUESTS FOR LEGAL ASSISTANCE
Starting early this year, when people gathered in cities across the state to participate in the Women’s March, we have seen unprecedented levels of engagement from Oregonians who are showing that they are ready to fight for what they believe in. We have worked to capture this momentum in our legislative and legal work, and in our public education efforts.
We hired a statewide organizer to better utilize the our members and supporters on strategic issues. And over the year, we toured the state with stops in Eugene, Ashland, Astoria, Corvallis, Bend, and Portland to share the latest updates on the fight for civil liberties and civil rights, and to hear directly about the issues that most concern our members.
We have continually been impressed by the dedication and determination of Oregonians. You have shown up when it matters most. You have made calls, sent emails, met with lawmakers, and marched in the streets. You have made it clear that Oregonians reject the politics of hate and division, and are willing to work together to fight for the rights of all people to be treated with dignity and respect.
In time for inauguration day protests, we launched a brand new legal observer program. Our volunteer legal observers act as neutral witnesses and take video and notes of police and protester interactions. Their very presence, in their bright blue vests, is a reminder that the First Amendment has defenders.
After community reports of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) at county courthouses, the legal observers updated their training to include ICE observing. After recording several disturbing arrests by federal agents in plain clothes and unmarked cars, we took the observers’ videos public. As a result, Senators Wyden and Merkley have made formal inquiries into ICE activities and Representatives Bonamici, Blumenauer, and Schrader have called for congressional hearings.
President Trump, in one of his most cowardly and cruel moves, has targeted Dreamers, the young people who are recipients of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA). When federal immigration agents with ICE targeted Portland for a series of raids, two Portland Dreamers, Francisco and Emmanuel, were caught up in the sweep and taken from their family homes to a detention facility in Tacoma. Along with our partners, we quickly activated our supporters to call ICE to demand their release. ICE was flooded with calls, and collectively we shut their phones down with the number of calls. The young men were quickly released to their families, though they both still face deportation proceedings.
We have called on our Congresspeople, especially Representative Greg Walden, to pass a clean, stand-alone Dream Act to protect these young people. We need comprehensive immigration reform that reflects our values and our connection to the global community.
This year we launched a new grassroots campaign for district attorney accountability called They Report to You by knocking on 15,000 doors in Washington and Marion counties. The campaign seeks to empower Oregonians to improve our criminal justice system by redefining the role of district attorneys, increasing voter engagement with these important elected positions, and advocating for reforms that appropriately balance the enormous power and discretion of prosecutors.
Collectively, district attorneys have been the largest roadblock to criminal justice reform in our state. They have tremendous power, including the power to ensure that our justice system is more fair and effective.
MEDIA AND SOCIAL MEDIA
We believe in the importance of communications work as a central and essential element in the success of our mission by framing the debate on our issues, building support, and increasing the impact of our work. To that end, we make time to talk to the media whenever possible. This year, this work paid off in form of hundreds of mentions in local, national, and international outlets.
We also have a strong social media presence, and have seen our followers grow considerably this year. We understand the importance these platforms have in reaching people, especially young people. In one notable moment, on Super Bowl Sunday after the first Muslim and refugee ban was lifted, we live streamed the arrival of the first refugee family to Portland International Airport. The post reached over 1 million people and the video had 247,000 views on Facebook alone!
BY THE NUMBERS
5COMMUNITY FORUMS ACROSS THE STATE
COMMUNITY FORUMS ACROSS THE STATE
50PROTEST LEGAL OBSERVERS TRAINED
PROTEST LEGAL OBSERVERS TRAINED
55EVENTS ATTENDED BY LEGAL OBSERVERS
EVENTS ATTENDED BY LEGAL OBSERVERS
85ICE LEGAL OBSERVERS TRAINED
ICE LEGAL OBSERVERS TRAINED
150HOURS OF PROTEST & DEMONSTRATIONS OBSERVED
HOURS OF PROTEST & DEMONSTRATIONS OBSERVED
25008MOBILE JUSTICE APP DOWNLOADS
MOBILE JUSTICE APP DOWNLOADS
What people think of as the ACLU of Oregon is actually two organizations.
When someone becomes an ACLU member, they are contributing to the ACLU of Oregon which is our 501(c)4 non-profit. The revenue of our 501(c)4 has less lobbying and election-related restrictions on how we spend it, which is why those contributions are not tax-deductible. We also have a more traditional 501(c)3 non-profit, which is the ACLU Foundation of Oregon. Contributions to the Foundation are tax-deductible.
These organizations are affiliated and integrated and share the same Board of Directors and staff. Our financials are also consolidated so we are reporting on the combined revenue and expense breakdown for both organizations. Our fiscal year starts on April 1st and ends March 31st.
RELATIONSHIP WITH NATIONAL ACLU
Although that ACLU of Oregon is an independent organization, we are also a State Affiliate of ACLU nationally. There is a historic and structured relationship between national ACLU and state affiliates. The overwhelming majority of our supporters want to advance civil liberties and civil rights work not only in their own state but also in the country at large. Therefore, if you live in Oregon, your contribution is split between state-based work and national work. This is true whether you give directly to the ACLU of Oregon or to ACLU nationally.
This relationship allows work on the ground in Oregon to thrive, while also ensuring the ACLU can move resources to critical and timely issues when needed whether it’s a strategic voting rights case in Kansas or North Carolina, an immigrant rights case in Texas, or a reproductive freedom case in Alabama. Having an on the ground presence in all 50 states also gives us the ability to create coordinated national campaigns that have incredible impact. That national reach has been instrumental in our successful efforts pushing back on Trump’s policy attacks.
GROWTH IN SUPPORTERS AND RESOURCES
ACLU of Oregon ended the last fiscal year with a surplus for just the third time in the past decade. This surplus was driven by an incredible growth in membership and outpouring of support in response to the Trump presidency. We are deeply appreciative of the support and recognize why we are on the receiving end of such generosity. The ACLU is seen as one of the organizations best prepared to rise to this moment and wage a strategic and multi-faceted effort to defend against the attacks on civil rights and liberties promised by Trump.
To be clear, the ACLU of Oregon’s board committed this fall to spending every penny of the FY17 surplus on strengthening our program impact in the Trump era. We are not stashing any of it away for a rainy day. We all agree it is storming outside. And despite our incredible success in the past year, there is so much more that needs to be done. We have been stretched beyond thin since November 2016. In the next year we will be adding legal, policy, and communications staff so we can strengthen our defensive and proactive efforts. We cannot be satisfied with the current state of Oregon or the country. Although there are reasons to be optimistic, collectively we need to continue to fight and build the work so that we just don’t get through this moment as a state or country but we have used it as a transformative moment that helps us more fully realize the values of liberty, equity, and justice.
WAYS TO GIVE
For 62 years, the commitment of scores of ACLU supporters has helped protect the freedoms that we enjoy today. By making a gift, in any of the following ways, you can ensure that the ACLU of Oregon has the resources needed to ensure that the rights and protections of the Constitution will be made real for everyone.
CHECK OR CREDIT CARDS: Make an annual, monthly, or quarterly tax-deductible gift to the ACLU Foundation via mail or online at aclu-or.org/donate.
WORKPLACE GIVING: Designate the ACLU Foundation as the recipient of a workplace gift through your employer’s giving campaign.
BEQUESTS: Designate the ACLU or the ACLU Foundation as a beneficiary of your estate through your irrevocable living trust or in your will.
GIFT ANNUITIES: Make a gift of cash or securities to the ACLU Foundation. You could receive fixed annual payments for life as well as a tax deduction.
STOCK, SECURITIES, MUTUAL FUND: Make a gift of appreciated stock, securities, or mutual fund shares directly to the ACLU Foundation that could provide tax advantages.
CHARITABLE TRUST: Establish a trust that benefits the ACLU Foundation while providing tax advantages as well as financial planning options for your family.
For more information or on ways to support the ACLU, contact Shelly Hunter, the Director of Development, at (503) 552-2101 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that the provided information is not intended to be tax or legal advice.