In case you missed it, the ACLU has launched a campaign of fear and deception about a bipartisan bill to reduce gang violence. We fact-checked their distortions in a news release last month. And today, AG McKenna and Rep. Charles Ross, R-Naches, posted a response on the Stranger’s blog:
This year the ACLU stakes out another extreme position, bashing a bipartisan bill to reduce gang violence. Instead of taking our offer to help improve the bill, the ACLU launched a cynical campaign of fear and deception. We regret that The Stranger’s Eli Sanders (Gangbanger, Jan. 25, 2011) bought into the ACLU’s tactics, falling for their arguments and accusing the bill’s authors of political motives.
The bill is the result of years of consideration by city leaders, police, and prosecutors. They’re concerned about the violence overwhelming communities, taking the lives of young people and catching innocent victims in the crossfire. Hardest hit are those in poor, ethnically diverse neighborhoods.
In some of these neighborhoods, indiscriminate shots fired into homes have become routine. In Wapato in 2009, a teenager unaffiliated with gangs was hit in the face by a stray bullet. He had made the mistake of looking out his window at a gang-related disturbance outside. Just last week, a National Guardsman and another young man walking home from a Yakima high school were shot by gang members.
To underscore how extreme the ACLU is on criminal justice matters, McKenna and Ross remind readers about the supposed civil rights organization’s position on a constitutional amendment to reform how bail is determined for the most dangerous offenders:
In 2010, in response to the murder of four police officers by parolee Maurice Clemmons, Gov. Chris Gregoire championed a constitutional amendment expanding the authority of judges to deny bail to particularly dangerous criminals. With overwhelming support of Democrats and Republicans in the Legislature, the amendment was passed by nearly 85 percent of voters. On the fringe of the debate, the ACLU of Washington opposed the amendment. It was a reminder that, certainly as far as criminal justice matters are concerned, the ACLU is far out of step with mainstream thinking.
The ACLU’s extreme position on the bail amendment, which was sponsored Sen. Adam Kline, D-Seattle (probably the most progressive member of the Senate Democratic Caucus), may be found here and here.
New today is a broadside by 23 liberal groups (or is it the ACLU again?) that suggests the anti-gang bill will lead to racial profiling. So says the Yakima Herald:
The groups, the Stop Racial Profiling Now! Coalition, takes particular aim at proposed civil protection orders, also known as injunctions, that would let police or prosecutors keep identified gang members from doing otherwise legal activities — drinking, carrying guns and wearing certain clothing — in certain neighborhoods.
The groups suspect the injunctions will disproportionately affect youth of color.
We think that when clear and convincing proof exists that a person is an active member of a criminal street gang, meaning the individual has either been convicted of a gang related offense or has admitted to being a criminal street gang member (see definition of "criminal street gang"), a judge should be able to restrict that person from carrying guns and other activities that seriously threaten the community. And we’d remind these “23 groups” that the majority of victims of criminal street gang violence happen to be people of color. We think those victims matter, too. They deserve a basic level of protection.