The American Civil Liberties Union of Indiana mounts epic struggles to ensure everyone in America gets to enjoy the rights, freedoms and liberties that the Constitution guarantees. Since our formation, we have been involved in all aspects of the struggle for racial justice across the United States.

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 24, 2014

ST. LOUIS, Mo. — The grand jury in Ferguson, Mo., has declined to indict Ferguson Police Officer Darren Wilson on charges in the Aug. 9 shooting death of Michael Brown. The following is reaction from Jeffrey Mittman, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri:

"To build trust, we need a democratic system of policing where our communities have an equal say in the way their neighborhoods are policed. Collaboration, transparency, and communication between police and communities around the shared goals of equality, fairness and public safety is the path forward." —Jeffrey Mittman, Executive Director, ACLU of Missouri

"The grand jury's decision does not negate the fact that Michael Brown's tragic death is part of an alarming national trend of officers using excessive force against people of color, often during routine encounters. Yet in most cases, the officers and police departments are not held accountable. While many officers carry out their jobs with respect for the communities they serve, we must confront the profound disconnect and disrespect that many communities of color experience with their local law enforcement.

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The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed Black teenager, by a white police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, is a grim reminder that we often experience two kinds of law enforcement, one that protects and another that frightens and controls. Working with our national partners, the ACLU of Indiana has been on the front lines educating the public about a number of issues that affect racial minorities. 

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Voting is a constitutional right, and it's one all Hoosiers should be proud to exercise. But thousands of Indiana citizens think that because they've been incarcerated, they can no longer participate in the voting rights guaranteed to them by the Bill of Rights and the U.S. Constitution. This de facto voter disenfranchisement ripples across generations and communities, creating an entire class of people who don't exercise their rights to vote.

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One spring evening in 1996, David Smith, a sergeant with the Indiana State Police Department, was traveling home to his Carmel subdivision in an unmarked maroon Chevrolet Caprice. While waiting at a traffic light, he saw a Carmel police officer observing him from another lane. Moments later, the officer activated his emergency lights and motioned Smith to pull over.

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