Our Chapter's Local Activities
The Monterey County Chapter of the ACLU maintains a full-time
Complaint Line and a Legal Committee, both overseeing
complaints and projects reflective of ACLU concerns.
We have a Speaker's Bureau
to provide civil liberties information and to participate in
community forums, organizational conferences, presentations, panels, and workshops.
We also maintain this website to provide readily accessible civil rights information to the public.
Our activities have advanced civil liberties in Monterey County by publicizing issues of importance to the community. They have also helped us forge coalitions, provide educational material, put law enforcement and government on notice that we are vigilant about civil liberties issues, let community members know that we are there to support them, and provided assistance to those who might need it.
- Complaint Line [831.622.9894]: Our Chapter complaint line, both in English and Spanish, is staffed by Board volunteers. We receive anywhere from 4-10 calls a week. Almost all relate to non-civil liberties issues. When we can, we refer the callers to agencies that might be able to help them (e.g., Senior Services for Seniors, California Rural Legal Assistance, the Department of Fair Housing and Employment, the California Department of Consumer Affairs, the Monterey County Bar Association Lawyer Referral Service, etc.). When there are issues that involve civil liberties, these are referred to our Legal Committee, which is composed of attorneys, half of whom are Board members. Our attorneys always consult with the ACLU of Northern California staff attorneys before responding to civil liberties issues.
- Annual Essay and Art Contest: The Chapter holds an annual Art and Essay Contest. Each year, a civil liberties issue is selected by the Art and Essay Committee and approved by the Board. One of the Co-Chairs of our Legal Committee then prepares a summary of the issue. The announcement of the contest, the guidelines, and the summary of the issue are sent to all junior and senior high schools in Monterey County and posted on our web site. During the weeks leading up to the deadline, the number of hits on our web site rises noticeably.
- Talks to Students: Members of our Speaker's Bureau give presentations to middle and high school students regarding the Art and Essay Contest topic. In addition, our speakers gave talks ato local schools as requested.
- Advisory Committees: The Chapter sends a representative to the Equal Employment Opportunity Advisory Committee (EEOAC) at Monterey Peninsula College (MPC) in Monterey. Our representative has been very active in framing school district policy in this area.
- Ralph B. Atkinson Award: Each year the Chapter presents the Ralph B. Atkinson Award to a local civil rights activist. This year, the award-winner was Evelyn Caracheo Gracia for her work in youth advocacy, especially her work with ending gang contracts in the Salinas Union School District and her work in trying to stem the school-to-prison pipeline. The award luncheon in late October was attended by some 60 people, including a number of Ms. Gracia's fellow workers at the Monterey County Board of Education. Ms. Gracia works in Migrant Education. Keynote speakers were Dr. Nancy Kotowski, Superintendent, Monterey County Office of Education, and Mike Meuter, attorney for California Rural Legal Assistance.
- Francis Heisler Award: We honor a chapter board member who has done outstanding work in the area of civil liberties with the Francis Heisler Award.
It is named for acclaimed civil rights lawyer Francis Heisler. The award is given only when
warranted, not each year like the Ralph B.Atkinson Award, which is for non-board members.
Because Heisler was a Monterey County Chapter of the ACLU board member, and champion of
civil liberties, this award was named after him.
- Participation in Gay Pride Parade in Salinas: The Chapter takes part in the Gay Pride Parade held in the City of Salinas.
- Chapter Web Site: This exceptional web site was designed and is maintained by a Board member. Through it, we have received inquiries and telephone calls from as far away as Florida and Hawaii. The web site is filled with information about current ACLU actions, local events, Chapter services, etc., and has links to both the Northern California and the National ACLU. Requests for speakers at local colleges and universities usually come through the web site, as well as a number of membership applications. There are currently about 100 web pages.
- Fundraising: Each year we ask our members to contribute to the annual ACLU of Northern California Bill of Rights Day fundraising campaign through a mailing to our members in Monterey County. On average we raise $12-$15,000 from 10% of our Chapter households.