ACLU Challenges Anti-Mumia Law


The ACLU has filed suit on behalf of a group of Pennsylvania journalists and academics, challenging the new law passed in the wake of Mumia Abu-Jamal’s commencement speech to a Vermont college last year.

The law lets crime victims collect damages from prison inmates whose conduct “causes a temporary or permanent state of mental anguish” in their original crime victim. “The ACLU challenged it in federal court Thursday, saying it stifles advocacy and debate on prison issues,” AP reports.
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100 Percent of High Schoolers Attend Football Game Sober

Ah, high school football. The tradition, the camaraderie, the breathalyzer tests you have to pass to get in. At a Phoenixville Area High School football game over the weekend, students attending the game without their parents had to pass a breath test in order to be admitted.

This is not a new policy for school events: Routinely in many districts, students are tested for alcohol in order to attend dances or other extracurricular activities. This is the first time tests were done at a Phoenixville football game, but in a statement officials say the district has done it for other events. Fox got details on the reasoning for the tests: “Administrators declined to talk on camera, but tell FOX 29 they heard some students were going to the game drunk, so they took action.”

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ACLU Sues Police for Using Force to Stop Photos of Arrest

Two photos showing the encounter between Amanda Geraci and Philly police officers.

Two photos showing the encounter between Amanda Geraci and Philly police officers.

It’s been almost three years now since Commissioner Charles Ramsey issued a directive to Philly Police, letting them know that it’s entirely legal for the public to record officers doing their work and making arrests — as long as the photographer doesn’t interfere with that police work.

It seems his officers still haven’t gotten the message. The ACLU today announced another lawsuit — the fifth in a series — against the department on behalf of a woman who was physically restrained from recording officers arresting a protestor.
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Newspapers Ask Court for Pennsylvania Lethal-Injection Drug Info


Four newspapers, two in Philadelphia, have sued Pennsylvania in order to get information on the supplier of Pennsylvania’s lethal injection drugs. The motion was filed by the ACLU on behalf of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Philadelphia City Paper, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and Guardian US.

The lawsuit (below) asks a federal judge to unseal court documents that reveal the drugs Pennsylvania uses for executions, including the scheduled lethal injection of Humbert Michael Jr., set for September 22nd. Michael Jr. kidnapped and killed 16-year-old Trista Eng in 1993. It would be Pennsylvania’s first execution in since Gary Heidnik was executed in 1999.

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High School Editors Will Be Honored by ACLU reports that the student editors at Neshaminy High School will be honored by the ACLU of Pennsylvania.

Members of Neshaminy’s editorial board voted last October to stop using Redskin, the name of the school mascot, in all stories and advertisements in the paper because they felt it was racially insensitive. A lengthy dispute with district administrators ensued. Ultimately, the school board voted in June to allow students to remove Redskin from news stories but not editorials or opinion columns.

They’ll be honored at a dinner Oct.8  at the National Museum of American Jewish History.

5 Questions: ACLU’s Mary Catherine Roper on “Stop-and-Frisk” in Philly

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Mary Catherine Roper

News emerged this week that a Philly teen suffered a ruptured testicle during a stop-and-frisk encounter with police. Mary Catherine Roper is a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Pennsylvania, which has challenged the stop-and-frisk policies of the Philadelphia Police. She spoke with Philly Mag about where those efforts stand:

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ACLU and Freedom to Marry Launch “Why Marriage Matters” Campaign

Sandy Ferlanie and Christine Donato are among the families sharing their stories with the "Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania" campaign. Click the photo to read.

Sandy Ferlanie and Christine Donato are among the families sharing their stories with the “Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania” campaign. Click the photo to read.

In May Franklin and Marshall released poll results saying that 53 percent of Pennsylvanians support the right of same-sex couples to get married, but you’d never know it. Here we are, lagging on as the only Northeast state that hasn’t allowed gay couples to walk down the aisle. And as we saw this week, the mere mention that you’re applying for a marriage license can cost you your job.

To help turn around our miserable fate, gay-rights activist groups American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania (ACLU-PA) and Freedom to Marry joined forces to launch a new campaign/website that hopes to, “begin a dialogue with Pennsylvanian residents about why marriage is important to same-sex couples and their families.” Freedom to Marry President Evan Wolfson explains the idea behind “Why Marriage Matters Pennsylvania“:

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Woman Suffers Horrible Violence Because She’s Afraid To Be Evicted

norristown acluA Norristown woman who was hit on the head with an ashtray and stabbed in the neck with broken glass by her ex-boyfriend ended up being airlifted to a hospital because she’d been too afraid to call police when her attacker showed up. She had already been threatened with eviction after calling the police when the same ex-boyfriend attacked her with a brick, and was now on a “probationary period” in terms of being evicted from her apartment.

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