ACLU-SoCal Pasadena/Foothills Chapter Garden Party
At its annual garden party this past Sunday, the ACLU of Southern California’s Pasadena/Foothills Chapter recognized six individuals and groups that have provided long-term service to Pasadena and Northeast Los Angeles for their social justice and civil liberties work.
Chapter president Dick Price introduced new, continuing, and departed members to the Chapter’s award-winning board:
- New Members: Victoria Cepeida-Mojarro, Julia Gould, Tamara Haywood, Miguel Paredes, Sohini Ray, Astine Suleimanyan, Michelle White (re-elected), Michael Young
- Continuing Members: Joanna Amador, Justin Chapman, Thalia González, Gwen Jones, Sharon Kyle, Unai Montes-Irueste, Jim Nasella, Kris Ockershauser, Yuny Parada
- Departed Members: Richard Packard and Cynthia Loo
As he has for several years constitutional lawyer Stephen F. Rohde updated audience members with a review of recent Supreme Court decisions and their impact on progressive social justice causes. Stephen is the Chair the ACLU Foundation of Southern California, a founder and current Vice-Chair of Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Vice Chair of Bend the Arc and a Vice President of Death Penalty Focus.
His most recent book, Freedom of Assembly, is part of the American Rights Series. As has become a tradition with our Chapter Garden Parties, Steve will update us on activities at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Chapter Board members then introduced our six awardees.
Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network-introduced by Yuny Parada, Pablo Alvarado, director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network, which works to improve the lives of day laborers. NDLON works with local governments to help establish worker centers to move job seekers into places of safety.
Carl Matthes, President of the Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance—introduced by Sharon Kyle. Carl Matthes is currently President of the Uptown Gay and Lesbian Alliance (UGLA), a LGBT grassroots, non-profit corporation founded in 1983 and headquartered in Northeast Los Angeles. This past summer he served on the Organizing Committee for The Huntington Library’s LGBT garden party, “An Evening Among the Roses,” of which UGLA was a sponsor.
Marvin Schachter, Member of ACLU Southern California Board for 56 years and perpetual civil liberties activist—introduced by Kris Olkershauser. Marvin Schachter, a 56-year member of ACLU Southern California’s Board, serving 17 years on the national ACLU Board. His decades of civic activities include leadership in the Pasadena UNA, California Democratic Council, the Nuclear Freeze movement, the State and County Commissions on Aging, the State AARP, and testifying at numerous Pasadena City Council meetings.
Rev. George Regas, long-time former rector, and Rev. Ed Bacon, rector since 1995 of Pasadena’s All Saints—introduced by Jim Nasella. Rev. George Regas is the long-time former rector and Rev. Ed Bacon the rector since 1995 of Pasadena’s All Saints, the influential liberal Episcopal Church, which has been an area leader over the decades in the civil rights revolution, the AIDS crisis, opposition to the nuclear arms race, homelessness, and the peace movement, currently through creation of the Interfaith Center United for Justice and Peace.
Jon Guynn, Kevin Uhrich, and Andre Coleman, publisher, editor and deuputy editor of the Pasadena Weekly—introduced by Justin Chapman. Jon Guynn is publisher, Kevin Uhrich is editor, and Andre Coleman is deputy editor at the Pasadena Weekly, the 30-year-old weekly newspaper serving Pasadena and surrounding communities, which has often taken strong stands on behalf of protecting civil rights and civil liberties.
Joe and Ruthie Hopkins, publishers of the San Gabriel Valley Journal News—introduced by Michelle White. Joe and Ruthie Hopkins founded and publish the San Gabriel Valley Journal News, the only African-American newspaper serving the San Gabriel Valley as a bellweather for 25 years to protect the civil rights of the region’s African American communities.
And then Past Chair Michelle White made a surprise award to Chairman Dick Price, who’s second one-year term is concluding. Dick also services on the ACLU of Southern California Union board and, with his wife Sharon, publishes LA Progressive.
The Chapter’s strategic plans for the past two years have focused on four areas: Serving a broader swath of our service area beyond Pasadena; attracting younger activists; strengthening and expanding our committee structure; and working more closely with ACLU Affiliate staff.
To reach outside Pasadena and attract younger activists, the Chapter has worked with a group of Occidental College students, faculty, and staff to create what may become both an ACLU campus club and chapter serving Eagle Rock and environs—a model that could work elsewhere. Largely organized by Oxy students, this new effort put on last month’s most successful “Immigration Reform Now? Mid-Term Elections and the Fight for Citizenship” panel session, moderated by our board member, Unai Montes-Irueste.
The Chapter also supported most successful efforts by ACLU board member Bob Nelson to bring ACLU National President Susan N. Herman to discuss “Civil Liberties in the National Security Era: What Happened to Edward Snowden?” And, we worked with two other ACLU chapters and Affiliate staff to bring a Women’s Rights forum to Hollywood, featuring leading women’s rights voices, moderated by Sharon Kyle.
Other forums this year included “Civil Rights Act Celebrates 50 Years: Why so Little Progress in America’s Classrooms?” moderated by Michelle White in July, “Who’s Policing Law Enforcement: What Is the Civilian Oversight for Pasadena’s Police Department and LA Sheriff’s Department” in May, and “Domestic Drones & Surveillance: What Happens to Civil Liberties?” in January—the latter two organized by Kris Okershauser.
The Know Your Rights workshops developed by our Police Practices Committee continues to provide significant value to communities of color throughout our service area by arming principally young men with knowledge for what they should and should not do when stopped by police. Among its many activities, this committee has also taken a lead in the effort to bring increased independent civilian oversight to the Pasadena Police Department, in particular in reaction to racial profiling and police shootings of black men.
Affordable Housing, another long-standing and active Chapter committee, continued its coalition with partners to establish a Housing Commission for the City of Pasadena and otherwise battle for affordable housing planning provisions in an increasingly gentrified region.
The Chapter’s new Immigrant Rights Committee is developing a workshop for Pasadena on the new law that will allow immigrants to obtain California drivers licenses. Earlier the Committee had presented a Know Your Rights workshops specifically for Spanishspeaking youth.
The Chapter has also begun a new Mass Incarceration committee and will look for other opportunities now that our board has added so many committed activists in the justcompleted election.
To strengthen our Chapter’s relations with Affiliate staff and Union Board members, we have pitched in with efforts to create community organizing training for all the Affiliate’s chapters and have also helped create the Affiliate’s new Criminal Justice Outreach Committee.
The Chapter’s public forums are usually held on the second Tuesday of January, March, May, July, September, and November, at Neighborhood Church, 301 No. Orange Grove Boulevard, Pasadena, commending at 7 p.m.
The next forum, “The Bill of Rights and America’s Press Under Seige,” will be held Tuesday, 18 November 2014 at Neighborhood Church. For more information on Chapter activities, see: www.aclu-sc.org/pasadena