My involvement with the ACLU is unique, as I'm a person whose rights were violated. I was a part-time police officer for the City of England, Arkansas. I witnessed a drug deal in a park in the City of Jacksonville, where my children played. I approached the dealers and told them to hand over the drugs. I obtained their names, addresses, and phone numbers, and called to request that Jacksonville police come to the park. Then, I flagged down Pulaski County Deputy Sherriff, who was passing by.
The Jacksonville police quickly came to the scene, and just as fast, misread the entire situation. They arrested me without cause. To make matters worse, they let the drug dealers leave as "victims." It was this experience that led me to the ACLU of Arkansas.
Since then, I’ve collaborated with the ACLU of Arkansas on issues ranging from fair housing and racial justice to criminal justice reform. I worked alongside the ACLU on the issue of separating Martin Luther King Jr., and Robert E. Lee's birthdays, which ended successfully. And we’re still working to ensure equity in our public schools and to improve the criminal justice system. Advancing these priorities in the legislature is an uphill battle, but we are still in the fight.
What has always been special about the ACLU of Arkansas is that they offer fairness and equality for everyone. If your case meets their guidelines, they will stand up to help you no matter who you are. People who are silenced or marginalized are especially vulnerable to experiencing discrimination, because people think they won’t be able to fight back. The ACLU of Arkansas gives people confidence that there is somebody out there to fight for them and to fight for the right reasons.
The ACLU of Arkansas' work on LGBTQ rights in Arkansas and their work toward criminal justice reform are successes. Small victories will lead to larger ones. Their work in education is making a huge difference as well, as they are actively involved with students and parents to combat discrimination, harassment, and bullying. There are civil rights groups out there that discriminate, but the ACLU does not. They work for everyone.
I've worked closely with ACLU of Arkansas Legal Director Holly Dickson, and I can say with certainty that Holly is a fighter, especially in dealing with discrimination and race. She does what she says she's going to do.I've stood with her, and she's stood with me, even where there wasn't an official ACLU engagement or action.
Sadly, discrimination and racial disparities have gotten worse over the past three years under the Trump administration. We'll continue to need organizations like the ACLU of Arkansas in this never-ending fight for equal rights and to eliminate discrimination and racism.
I hope in the future, the ACLU of Arkansas can continue to grow to take on even more cases and be even more visible in communities across the state. Now more than ever we need people who are willing to stand up, speak out, and support organizations like the ACLU.
We have to keep up the fight, together.