But if ever there has been an opportunity to secure meaningful racial justice in our state, this is it.
This is a historic moment for racial justice in our state. It's at times encouraging, exhausting, and exhilarating.
If ever there were an opportunity to secure meaningful racial justice, this is it. The energy and passion of protestors – following the murder of George Floyd – has finally drawn civic leaders' attention. Change is happening. It's like someone pushed the fast-forward button on key efforts that we've been working on for years.
Just a few days ago, we filed a brief defending Waterloo's "ban the box" ordinance <[link removed]>, which, along with federal and state civil rights laws, prevents employers from rejecting job applicants based only on an arrest or conviction without a legitimate business reason for doing so – a practice that unjustly punishes Black people more because of systemic racism in our criminal justice system.
Our other ongoing racial justice work has taken on even more meaning and urgency:
* The ACLU of Iowa has always strongly defended the rights of protestors, but this fundamental form of free speech is brutally under attack, day after day. We've been active in educating protestors on their rights <[link removed]>, as well as speaking out publicly on incidents of excessive police force.
* In a state where 1 in 10 Black people can't vote because of a felony conviction, our governor has finally pledged to sign an executive order <[link removed]>, as a stopgap measure, to remedy that before the November election.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to rage and is disproportionately harming communities of color. <[link removed]>
* Iowa's jails and prisons, which disproportionately incarcerate Black and indigenous people and people of color, responded to the urging of us and others to reduce new intakes and release as many people as safely possible. Many county jails have <[link removed]> decreased their populations by a third to more than half.
* We've urged Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) to release detained immigrants <[link removed]> and make sure people they are holding receive adequate medical care and hygiene supplies to keep them and their families safe without fear of deportation.
* In the middle of a pandemic, the Iowa Legislature passed a law to make it more difficult for people to receive abortions by making Iowans attend an additional, medically unnecessary appointment and then wait at least 24 hours to receive an abortion. This is a racial justice issue since it would disproportionately impact low-income, Black, and indigenous Iowans and people of color. We filed a lawsuit to block the law for now. <[link removed]>
This fight isn't over. Not this week, this month, or even this year. We're glad you're in it with us.