As defenders of civil liberties and dissent, we’ve never had a shortage of work to do.
But in 2017, we were particularly busy. Sometimes it seemed like the nation was engulfed by a tidal wave of repression didn’t it? Together we fought mass surveillance, the Muslim bans, anti-protests bills, censorship, and attempts to roll back what progress has been made on criminal justice reform. And we fought Trump’s unqualified, reactionary, and often racist nominees. We defended whistleblowers, dissidents and press freedom.
We couldn’t do this work alone. And we didn’t. You were right there with us.
Here’s a look at just some of the most notable actions we took together this year.
Defending the Right to Protest
Protest is under fire across the country. Prosecutors are charging protesters as felons, legislators are passing bills to excuse drivers who run over protesters, but criminalize boycotts.
Luckily, our grassroots supporters like you swung into action. Many of you contacted your members of Congress to oppose the Israel Anti-Boycott bill, which would make it a felony carrying decades in prison to engage in peaceful human rights boycotts. Grassroots pressure has stalled the bill, if not killed it outright.
The DOJ’s witch hunt against Trump inauguration protesters has galvanized us. Supporters like you sprang into action demanding Jeff Sessions rescind the warrant asking for the IP addresses 1.3 million people who visited the DisruptJ20 website. And you joined with 50,000 people in calling for the felony charges to be dropped against Trump inauguration protesters.
The first trial of six of the protesters has ended with not guilty verdicts on all counts, but 188 people are still awaiting trial. We have to keep the pressure on. Please donate today.
Challenging the FBI’s Continued Assault on Social Movements
Trump’s firing FBI Director James Comey ignited a major scandal. Yet, there is another scandal that went largely unnoticed–the FBI’s century long record of continuous spying on social movements.
When it came out the FBI was harassing Standing Rock Water Protectors or that they were in bed with a private intelligence firm spying on protesters for the oil companies, you wasted no time demanding the Senate ask tough questions.
After it was revealed that the FBI and DHS put together a racist and absurd intelligence assessment about “Black Identity Extremists” that tries to blame African-Americans concerned with police brutality for violence, you mobilized to demand the report be rescinded.
Pushing Back Against Mass Surveillance and Fighting for An Open Internet
The NSA and surveillance hawks have been fighting to renew and expand Section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act, which allows for the NSA bulk internet surveillance that Edward Snowden heroically exposed. You (and millions of others) have repeatedly told Congress to stand up for the Fourth Amendment and reform or let it expire. So far, our pressure has prevented an expansion of 702. But the NSA keeps trying, and so will we.
You also stood up for a free and open internet, telling Congress to step up and save the internet should the FCC repeal net neutrality. As you know the FCC did shamefully voted to kill our open and free internet, so this fight isn’t over either.
Exposing Torture and Fighting to Close Guantanamo
As we have for the past decade, we spent January 11 protesting torture, indefinite detention, and Guantanamo Bay prison. In 2017, we made a last ditch effort to compel the release of the full Senate torture report. We delivered over 60,000 signatures to Senator Feinstein asking her to use her privilege as a US Senator to insert the report into the congressional record. (She continued to refuse to do this).
January 11, 2018 will be the 16th anniversary of the opening of Gitmo. Torture and indefinite detention continue at the prison, but no new prisoners have been detained there (despite Trump’s promise to fill it up). We will continue to work to close the prison down and bring justice to the 41 men who remain incarcerated there.
Standing Up For Whistleblowers
Together, we’ve long championed whistleblowers. Although President Obama waged an unprecedented war against whistleblowers, we called on him to pardon Chelsea Manning. When he commuted her sentence and Chelsea finally walked free earlier this year, we were filled with joy.
Unfortunately, the war on whistleblowers has continued. Donald Trump’s DOJ has continued the shocking practice of charging whistleblowers who leak information with the intent to inform the public with espionage. When whistleblower Reality Winner was charged with Espionage, supporters like you joined us in calling on the DOJ to drop the charges and end abuse of the Espionage Act.
You helped us get the word out about a nefarious wave of state legislation aimed at whistleblowers working to expose health, environmental and safety violations as well as cruelty to animals in the agriculture industry. With your help, we published a groundbreaking report on this state-level criminalization of whistleblowing.
You were busy this year and so were we.
Let’s keep it up in 2018!