Champaign County ACLU Steering Committee

Thursday, December 8, 2011, 7:00 p.m.

In attendance: Joe  Simanis and Sid Kenyon invited guests from Geography 412 , Bill Brown,  Steve Portnoy, Esther Patt, Marsha Woodbury, Faruq Nelson, Barbara Kessel

1. We did not approve minutes of November meetin

2. We approved the Treasurer's report. The current balance is $3561.25. Esther Patt moved, Faruq Nelson seconded.

3. Announcements & Communication

a)   Law School Chapter & Student Chapter reports--non

b)   No report on YWCA panel on the death penalty panel on Nov. 14th.

c) We had a very well constructed presentation by graduate students Joe  Simanis and Sid Kenyon about investigating geographical aspects of traffic stops. They gave introductory material about their course, studied traffic volume and total traffic stops and also populations breakdown versus stops.

Their Results:

    •     Majority of traffic stops occur within one mile of the University and Lincoln intersection, but increase in traffic flow does not account for increased stops

    •    Minority representation is significantly concentrated around high volume traffic stop areas

    •    Beat 61 has most traffic stops, highest minority representation, but fewest service calls (this point is particularly important to point out to our local police departments, as they claim the police cars are in the area because of so many service calls)

    •    Neighborhoods with fewer minority residents tend to have higher proportions of minority stops, but correlation weak

    •    Limitations of the study:

    •    Hispanic was not counted as an ethnicity or race in the US Census data, but officers marked Hispanic as category

    •    Racial categories of drivers up to officer’s interpretation

    •    Traffic data was not available for every road in Urbana

    •    Service call data only available by beat, not by smaller divisions

    •    Not all service calls involve automobile-related incidents

Some divisions had very few stops over the time period in questio

d) Report on the Insecure Communities meeting at the Champaign Public Library on December attended by Paul Debevec, who could not attend the Steering committee meeting but sent his notes, Steve Portnoy, Bill Brown and Barbara Kessel. The event was very well attended, perhaps 125 to 200 people. The panel had three local C-U Immigration Forum members, a Chicago based Illinois Coalition member, and a representative from the Sheriff’s Office.

The Secure Communities Act, a new immigration enforcement program run by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) requires participating local law enforcement agencies to cross-check fingerprints with a federal immigration database. Individuals that are matched and considered removable are subject to removal proceedings through ICE. If people are brought in on suspicion, their immigration status is questioned. The speaker from Chicago said the law originally meant to deport only felons, but 77% of those deported are not felons.
People who are not citizens and not felons are deported. The Obama administration has deported more people than the Bush Administration did, and it recently tried to stop the large deportations, but they cannot stop it, and ICE is still deporting non-felons. ICE. The Immigration Forum is fighting back, educating people about their rights. 
The Steering Committee decided to let the Immigration Forum know we are available to support them.

Under this Act, people are being held in jail too long. That led to a discussion of our local jails, probably solved by expanding existing facilities rather than building a new jail.  We could easily check the records of those currently being held to find out who could be released because they cannot afford the $100 bond. Simply lowering the bond would lessen the strain. We need to spend money on the satellite jail and not build a new jail, because if the County builds a new jail, they will fill it.

e) Champaign police video. Champaign County ACLU has been contacted by the news media but has not commented. The youth in the video seemed to have misinformation about his rights.  The discussion about the police video involved two distinct points of view: the first was that the arrestee violated the law by defying the police and speaking very provocatively and the second point of view was that the police are not supposed to punish people for their verbalizations. There was uncertainty over whether the arrestee was in handcuffs or not while being pepper sprayed/maced.

4. Old Business
a) Urbana police training that was originally offered to us in mid-December has moved to early February.

5. New Business

a) Safe Schools Alliance--request to co-sponsor train-the-trainer event Jan. 21. We decided to contribute $100, Steve Portnoy moved and Faruq Nelson seconded.
b) Rights of Demonstrators event--leave until next meeting, maybe will work via email
c) January meeting with Ed Yohnka to talk about Advocacy and Outreach program
d) Committees for awards and nominations -- email
e) Speaker suggestions for annual meetings -- Barbara: Joey Mogul and Standish Willis as possible speakers, who are experts on the Jon Burge case who tortured black men in Chicago. The United Nations had to step in and bring this to the attention of the U.S. Attorney General. The issues are using the United Nations to get justice, and the obligations to prosecute domestic terror.  We are looking at April 22 for our annual brunch.
f) Master gardener background checks. Leave for further discussion when knowledgeable person present.

6. Adjournment at 8:30 p.m.

Respectfully submitted, Marsha Woodbury   Next meeting: January 5th