ACLU working to re-establish Charlotte chapter - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

ACLU working to re-establish Charlotte chapter

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The nation's oldest group protecting people's constitutional freedoms wants to re-establish itself in the Queen City.

The American Civil Liberties Union met in Charlotte Sunday to hash out its next steps.

Organizers say growing here will help their mission.

"It's sort of amazing to me we don't have a local Charlotte chapter," ACLU member Lee Knight Caffery said.

Caffery is no stranger to the work of the ACLU. Earlier this year, she joined with the group to file a lawsuit fighting for equal parental rights for unmarried couples.

She's now joining a group of Charlotte volunteers to begin work in her own backyard.

"It's time to get this off the ground" Caffery said.

"Having a physical presence on the ground will help us do our mission that much more," Communications Director for ACLU NC Mike Meno said.

There are already 12,000 members across the state. Hundreds live in Charlotte.

Meno points to the group's heavy involvement in issues in and around the Charlotte area already.

Take the DNC for example. The group worked to make sure protestor's free speech was protected.

WBTV also followed their plight to stop secular prayer at government meetings in Rowan County. The ACLU said Jesus specific prayer violates the separation of church and state. And the group said in February it had received more complaints about prayers from meetings in Rowan County than any other municipality in North Carolina. The ACLU took Forsyth county officials to court over this same issue last Summer. The county appealed the decision 4 times - each time the ACLU won.

They've dealt with issues involving the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department and Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools.

The ACLU's "Write It Down" campaign allows drivers to document instances of racial discrimination across the state.

North Carolina's ACLU also joined a national effort to determine just how often law enforcement agencies use cell phones to track people. It sent records requests to 100 county sheriffs and police departments in the state asking how often the tracking technology is used - but also what rules are in place for deciding to use that technology.

The move came as Congress considered a bill to force officers to obtain a warrant before collecting cell phone location information.

The group's latest - their opposition to a cyberbullying law that went into effect Saturday.

"While the law may be well intentioned and enact such harsh punishments on students, it will threatened free speech rights," Meno said. 

The group works on some 300 issues. And while everyone may not agree with them on every issue, the group says it's the only avenue some people have to get justice.

"If the government is able to take away rights from one group of people...it's just as easy to take away your rights and that's what we try to remind everybody. We stand up for the rights of everybody," Meno said.

To learn more about joining the local chapter, click here.

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