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ACLU

St. Louis police arrest a protester in September, 2017.
File Photo |Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Two protesters testified on Monday that they did not receive a warning before St. Louis police deployed pepper spray on them on Sept. 15.

The American Civil Liberty Union of Missouri claims that police officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters following St. Louis Circuit Judge Timothy Wilson's Sept. 15 decision to find former police officer Jason Stockley not guilty in the 2011 murder of Anthony Lamar Smith.

The ACLU has asked U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry to order police to limit when officers can give dispersal warnings or use chemical agents.

"Right now in St. Louis, pepper spray is the new fire hose," Tony Rothert, legal director of the ACLU of Missouri, said during his closing argument.

Police apprehend someone said to have thrown a water bottle after protesters, who discourage throwing things during protests, encouraged him to take responsibilty for his actions. Sept. 29, 2017
Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Three St. Louis police officers told a federal judge on Thursday that the police response to protesters in St. Louis on Sept. 17 was handled lawfully under police policies.

Their testimony came on the second day of hearings on a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri. The suit alleged that officers violated the constitutional rights of protesters when they used chemical agents and arrested protesters and bystanders without warning.

Sgt. Brian Rossomano told U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry that police ordered the crowd to to disperse. But ACLU officials say St. Louis police officers are allowed too much discretion when responding to the protesters.

State police block protesters from continuing down Brentwood Blvd. toward Interstate 64 on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017 during a march in Richmond Heights.
Ryan Delaney | St. Louis Public Radio

In the weeks since a judge found former St. Louis police officer Jason Stockley not guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Anthony Lamar Smith, protesters have taken to the streets nearly every night.

While most of the people involved acted peacefully, in several incidents police have arrested demonstrators, and in some cases used tactics that are coming under scrutiny for their legality.

As a result, the city of St. Louis and the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department are the targets of several lawsuits.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 3:30 p.m. with ACLU comment — Missouri Secretary of State Jay Ashcroft filed a motion Tuesday to dismiss a lawsuit against the state’s new voter ID law.

Maplewood city attorney Craig Biesterfeld and city manager Marty Corcoran look through the city code during a meeting with a reporter at Maplewood City Hall.
Jenny Simeone-Cases | St. Louis Public Radio

Nuisance ordinances have been commonplace across the U.S. for at least a century. They are used to crack down on everything from overgrown grass to large-scale drug dealing. In the city of Maplewood, that extends to excessive calls to the police.

Maplewood's nuisance ordinance, last updated in October 2006, is the subject of two lawsuits, which allege the policy and its enforcement are discriminatory. How the city handles nuisance complaints is hailed by some as a way to keep the community safe, and reviled by others who believe it’s a way to regulate residents’ behavior and push out people of color, people with disabilities and survivors of domestic violence.

Rici Hoffarth | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 10:30 a.m. March 9 with comments from Michael Barrett — A new lawsuit alleges the state of Missouri routinely violates the rights of people who need public defenders because of those attorneys’ large caseloads.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri filed a class-action lawsuit Thursday alleging that public defenders cannot pay enough attention to their clients, who have been charged with crimes ranging from stealing to murder. That, the ACLU claims, violates the state and federal constitutions.

File Photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

Updated 7:01 p.m. Jan. 05 with response from the court — Ferguson-Florissant's April school board elections will operate under its old at-large system. The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied the NAACP's request to switch to the cumulative voting method a federal judge ordered earlier in the voting rights case. 

State court rejects request by Wilson grand juror to speak about the process.

Dec 15, 2016
St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch announces on Nov 24, 2014, that the grand jury declined to indict Darren Wilson on any of five counts that were presented to it.
File photo | Bill Greenblatt | UPI

This story has been updated to reflect events since it was initially published. A member of the grand jury that decided not to charge former Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the August 2014 death of Michael Brown will not be able to share information about that experience.

A St. Louis County judge dismissed the grand juror’s suit on Tuesday. Judge Ellen Ribaudo wrote that the juror had not shown why the state laws around grand jury secrecy should not apply in his or her case. And while prosecutor Bob McCulloch chose to make some evidence from the grand jury public, Ribaudo said, not every detail needed to be released.

Patrick Henry Elementary School in St. Louis.
File photo | Carolina Hidalgo | St. Louis Public Radio

One day before filing for the spring election begins, the Ferguson-Florissant school board announced Monday that it will appeal a federal judge’s ruling changing how board members in the district are elected.

U.S. District Judge Rodney Sippel last month ordered that members of the board of the north St. Louis County district should be elected with cumulative voting, in an effort to achieve racial balance. He said that the current system of electing all board members at large “is legally unacceptable.”

Drummers from the Sunshine Cultural Arts Center perform at the Diversity Awareness Partnership's annual fundraising dinner, held November 9, 2016, the day after the 2016 election.
Provided | Diversity Awareness Partnership

Some St. Louisans who are upset with the outcome of the presidential election are putting their money — and their time — where their mouths are.

Following the victory of Republican president-elect Donald Trump, they’re plan to donate to local social-justice organizations — and volunteer.

The local Diversity Awareness Partnership, for example, noticed an immediate effect when it held  its annual fundraising dinner the night after the election. The education group took in $12,000— twice as much as last year — and signed up 100 first-time volunteers for its Connect program, rather than the usual 10 to 15.

Ferguson-Florissant parent Redditt Hudson, attorney Dale Ho, and past school candidate Willis Johnson at a press conference announcing a lawsuit against the Ferguson-Florissant schools on December 18.
Diane Balogh | ACLU of Missouri

Does the method of electing the Ferguson-Florissant school board discriminate against African-Americans? Or would proposed changes give them less power than they have now, not more?

After listening to arguments on both sides, it will be up to a federal judge to decide whether board members should be elected from districts, not at large as they are now.

A group of activists say Andre Cole didn't receive a fair trial nor a proper defense. They're asking Gov. Nixon to halt Cole's execution Tuesday.
Courtesy of California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation

A group of activists is calling on Missouri Governor Jay Nixon to put a hold on Tuesday's execution of a black man they say was unfairly convicted by an all-white jury.

In addition, a letter they sent to Nixon asks him to establish a special board of inquiry to "investigate whether the St. Louis County Prosecutor’s Office has intentionally and systematically excluded African Americans from jury service in capital cases." 

Tony Rothert and Mary Bruntrager on February 25, 2015 after oral arguments on the World Series ticket case
Rachel Lippmann | St. Louis Public Radio

Once again, the Missouri Court of Appeals finds itself considering whether or not records generated as part of an internal police probe should be made public.

The question this time: Whether public employees like police officers can claim their right to privacy is being violated by the release of records that a court has said are subject to the Missouri sunshine law.

Lilly Leyh and Sadie Pierce wait to get their marriage license on Nov. 5, 2014, at the St. Louis recorder of deeds office.
Jason Rosenbaum / St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 4:50 p.m. with comments from plaintiff Kyle Lawson.

Two days after a state judge in St. Louis came to the same conclusion, a federal judge in Kansas City has struck down Missouri's ban on same-sex marriage.  

ACLU of Missouri "Mobile Justice" app. Screenshoot
(Rachel Lippmann/St. Louis Public Radio)

When the St. Louis County grand jury completes its investigation into the death of Michael Brown, protests are expected to erupt. And now, the people who participate have a new tool to monitor police.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri unveiled a tool Thursday that allows people to monitor the interactions between police and citizens with their smart phones.

 

"People have told us they don't feel protected," said Jeffrey Mittman, the ACLU of Missouri's executive director. "This app will empower Missourians who have traditionally felt powerless." 

(via Flickr/Paul Sableman)

Updated with comments from the ACLU press conference, additional information on cameras, and additional comments from the city.

A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union of Missouri finds the city of St. Louis is doing a poor job preserving the privacy rights of residents and visitors as it expands its network of surveillance cameras. 

From a march in Ferguson on Aug. 15
Durrie Bouscaren I St. Louis Public Radio / St. Louis Public Radio

A federal judge in St. Louis has ruled that police in Ferguson cannot enforce what became known as the "five-second rule."  

The rule was a crowd-control strategy to respond to violence in Ferguson developed by the St. Louis County Police Department and the Missouri State Highway Patrol, along with the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.  Officers had noticed that whenever marchers paused, crowds would spread into the streets, blocking vehicle and foot traffic.

Janice Barrier (left) and her wife Sheri Schild were one of the 10 couples who sued the state to have their marriage recognize in Missouri.
Rachel Lippmann I St. Louis Public Radio

Updated at 5:30 p.m. to reflect the correct number of couples involved in the suit.

Ten same-sex couples from Missouri will head to court in Kansas City on Thursday for the first day of a case seeking recognition of their marriages.  

Fred Epstein, in his office at Indeeco
Provided by the family

Fred Epstein took the reins of the industrial heater factory his father founded in 1929 (just days after the stock market crashed) and adroitly steered it into the 21strst century, all the while giving chunks of time to transform the local ACLU into a formidable organization. He died Wednesday at the age of 79.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

A second St. Louis judge has ruled that police officers have no right to expect that statements they make during internal investigations won’t be released to the public.

Wikimedia Commons

Updated with additional information from the press conference, copy of the case.

Eight same-sex couples in Missouri have filed suit seeking to have their out-of-state marriages recognized in the state.

(St. Louis Public Radio)

A long-running legal battle over whether records of  internal St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department investigations are subject to Missouri's Sunshine Law will continue for possibly another six months.

Here's a timeline of the case:

(via Wikimedia Commons/California Department of Corrections)

A month ago, St. Louis Public Radio reported on the questionable manner in which the state of Missouri got ahold of its potential execution drug. Now Missouri has a new plan to go ahead with two upcoming executions, but the process is anything but open.

Updated 11/14/13 3:24 p.m.

gurney
(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

Governor Jay Nixon said Missouri will be moving forward with two executions later this year, in spite of objections from the American Civil Liberties Union and the European Union.

The executions could have a very real impact on hospitals throughout the United States, as the European Union considers possible export limits of the drug as part of its anti-capital punishment policies. Most propofol comes from Europe, where its leading manufacturer only wants it used for medical purposes.

(via Wikimedia Commons/Noahudlis)

The American Civil Liberties Union hopes to block two executions in Missouri this fall by seeking to disqualify the anesthesiologist used by the Department of Corrections.

Jeffrey Mittman is Executive Director of the ACLU of Eastern Missouri.  He says the American Board of Anesthesiology has recently adopted the same standards used by the American Medical Association, meaning that they cannot participate in ending someone's life.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon: The American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri has advised the superintendents of the Kirkwood and Mehlville schools that they have no legal basis to turn away any transfer students on the basis of class size or available space.

(via Flickr/s_falkow)

Updated 11:08 a.m., 12:42 p.m., 3:19 p.m. (with reporting from Illinois Public Radio's Brian Mackey)

A lengthy legal battle over an abortion notification law appears to be ending, clearing the way for Illinois to begin enforcing a 1995 measure requiring doctors to notify a girl's parents before she undergoes the procedure.

Thursday's Illinois Supreme Court ruling says the case shouldn't be reconsidered and has to be enforced - unless there's an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

via Flickr/BluEyedA73

Twenty five same-sex couples want to see a quick verdict in their lawsuits regarding the Illinois gay marriage ban.

Attorneys representing the couples suing over the ban asked a judge Wednesday to rule through summary judgment. 

Lambda Legal and the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois filed a motion Wednesday for a judge to rule quickly in the couples’ favor.

Albrecht Dürer / Wikimedia Commons

The American Civil Liberties Union says it will keep fighting against Missouri's new constitutional amendment on prayer after a federal judge dismissed its initial lawsuit.
 

s_falkow | Flickr

Updated to correct spelling of Patti Hageman's name

A St. Louis taxi driver has filed a religious discrimination lawsuit against the Metropolitan Taxicab Commission, the City of St. Louis and Whelan Security.

Raja Naeem filed the lawsuit this morning following his Dec. 7 arrest at Lambert Airport.

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