Martin Luther King Jr. was a transformative political and moral leader in the fight for racial justice - the battleground for which was most often the Deep South.
In commemoration of his legacy and the Civil Rights Movement, we've put together highlights of the work we're doing in 2023 to eradicate racial disparities and fight for our rights in the name of the Constitution, truth-telling, and justice.
Holding Police Accountable
Through direct legal representation and community advocacy, the ACLU of Louisiana's Justice Lab will continue working to dismantle systemic racism in the criminal legal system and its oldest mechanism of enforcement: policing. Since 2020, we have filed nearly 50 civil rights suits challenging local police departments, sheriffs' offices, and the Louisiana State Police. Alongside coalition partners and community members, we will continue to demand accountability for violent and discriminatory policing through the U.S. Department of Justice's ongoing investigation of Louisiana State Police.
Reducing Mass Incarceration and Supporting Second Chances
Thousands of adults and children live in cages because of Louisiana's racist criminal legal system and punitive sentencing laws. This year, seeking to reduce the state's harmful reliance on incarceration, we are focused on community advocacy efforts that support sentencing reform and second chances for children and those who face unfair barriers when trying to reintegrate into society.
Advocating for the Rights of ALL
We're working to build a Louisiana where LGBTQ+ communities can live openly without discrimination and enjoy equal rights. Many bills brought during the last legislative session were deeply harmful, homophobic, and transphobic. This year, we'll continue fighting for equality through strategic advocacy - prioritizing freedom of expression and standing up against censorship and attacks on LGBTQ+ youth.
Defending Immigrants' Rights
Last year, we visited over 3,000 people unlawfully detained in ICE custody. This year, we'll continue monthly visits to the eight operating detention facilities throughout Louisiana to conduct legal rights education and intake, prioritizing the six locations least frequented by lawyers. With coalition partners and community support, we're working to end prolonged detention and shrink this unnecessary, inhumane system.
Protecting Voting Rights
Louisianans must choose their leaders rather than politicians choosing their voters. Last March, we filed a federal lawsuit challenging state House and Senate district maps as unlawfully minimizing the voting strength of Black Louisianans, which is now on hold pending the Milligan v. Merrill decision expected later this year. No matter the outcome, we will fight in the courts and the statehouse to safeguard the right to vote - a fundamental right upon which all of our civil liberties rest.
The ACLU of Louisiana is proud to honor Dr. King by renewing our commitment to fight for justice in 2023. Onward!