History and Activities
The first stirrings of the Northern Panhandle ACLU began in 1999 when a small group of ACLU members from the northern panhandle met informally at Pat Cassidy’s law office. In 2000 and 2001, the organization became more formal with regularly scheduled meetings and elected officers. Since then, the chapter has met regularly. Here are some of the chapter’s activities since then:
The Patriot Act
In 2002, the first major project of the organization was started. In response to the newly passed Patriot Act, the local organization, like ACLU affiliates in other cities, attempted to get the city of Wheeling to nullify the Patriot Act in the city by passing an anti-Patriot Act ordinance.
In the summer of 2005, concern was raised about Sheriff Burgoyne's targeting of Hispanics, especially along Interstate 70. The following year, ACLU staff attorney Terri Baur sent a FOIA request to Ohio County, requesting Sheriff Burgoyne's records regarding traffic stops. As a follow-up, we distributed the Spanish version of the ACLU’s "Know Your Rights" brochure. Immigrant rights continues to be a chapter concern; for example, we have invited local law enforcement to discuss the matter with us at our annual picnic.
Racial Profiling and Discrimination
In November of 2009, we hosted the “Know Your Rights” seminar with Matt Bova as the presenter. We then co-hosted a follow-up town hall meeting on the subject. The result was the formation of the Racial Justice Coalition. (LINK to Racial Justice Coalition)
The local chapter has been active in community events (Martin Luther King Day activities and Wheeling’s annual Italian Festival) and our membership is involved in similar organizations.