The ACLU of Louisana is demanding changes to the ways police departments interact with and enforce the law in poor communities and communities of color across the state. Residents in these communities are being forced to bear the devastating effects of law enforcement’s selective enforcement of low-level and drug offenses, as well as widespread use of excessive force, as demonstrated by the 2016 death of unarmed Alton Sterling at the hands of police officers, and the treatment of peaceful protesters in the days that followed.
The policies and actions of the police are instrumental in deciding who gets stopped, searched, arrested, and funneled into the criminal justice system; indeed, the United States’ overincarceration crisis begins at the front end of the system. Meanwhile, often under the guise of our failed drug war, abuse of civil asset forfeiture is rampant, while federal grant programs enable the increasing militarization of local police departments.
Ultimately, our efforts are intended to address the longstanding adversarial relationship between police and communities and to help create police departments that work collaboratively and democratically with all of the communities they serve, increasing transparency, accountability, fairness, and public safety.