December 2007 Newsletter

18 December 2007

This is our final newsletter of 2007 and will serve as our annual report to you.

What goals have we pursued in the past year?
What have we accomplished?
How have we made use of your generous contributions?
Since the 1960’s CCDBR has opposed the many forms of repression of our civil liberties, both nationally and locally. We have formed and joined coalitions with allies, lobbied for legislative and policy changes, participated in protests and demonstrations, and sought to inform the public about the threats to our cherished freedoms and the need to defend them.

In 2007 we reached audiences of well over a hundred at each of two major fundraisers: in March, Sister Helen Prejean, a Nobel peace prize nominee and subject of an Academy award motion picture, spoke of her persistent quest to end the death penalty; in October, we saluted the remarkable Rosen family and provided the opportunity for their friend, internationally known journalist and powerful critic of the media, Greg Palast, to cover topics from racist disregard for Katrina victims to election fraud. In the promotion of both these events, we continued to develop the use of our web site: www.ccdbr.org, an increasingly important tool of communication in the cyber age.

Parallel to these large public gatherings, we have been holding briefings for board members and interested visitors dealing with local civil liberties issues. Stan Willis, Larry Kennon, Flint Taylor (People’s Law Office), and Locke Bowman (MacArthur Justice Center) have kept us up to date on the range of responses to the Burge police torture cases. Christina Abraham (now a member of our Advisory Board), civil rights chair of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) spoke to us on hate incidents against U.S. Muslims and mistreatment of Muslims classified as “terrorist threats” in U.S. prisons. Michael Deutsch briefed us on the Mohammed Salah case, which resulted in a partial victory for freedom of expression. Most recently we got a full account from Greg Hinton of the emerging National Action Coalition in Chicago, formed primarily to deal with police abuses in the African-American community.

From all these presentations we took inspiration to press our cause and have communicated with U.S. district Judge St. Eve on the Salah case, and with county commissioners and aldermen on the Burge litigation. CCDBR arranged two important meetings between People’s Law Office Burge-case lawyers and County Commissioner Mike Quigley. At the federal level, we have made known to our U.S. senators and representatives our positions on issues ranging from immigrants’ rights to the Military Commissions Act and the proposed impeachment of Attorney General Gonzalez.

Our pathbreaking educational initiative for high-school students, “Acting Free,” has now come to fruition: students at Senn High School are writing plays with a civil-liberties theme that will have a chance of a professional production by our partners, the Pegasus Players. The students are working under the guidance of our CCDBR “civil liberties coach,” Christina Abraham. The potential of this unusual program for reaching young people is very substantial; and we hope to get sufficient contributions from our individual supporters and foundations to expand it in 2008-2009.

We have all been dismayed by our national government’s use of torture and policy of kidnapping and “extraordinary renditions” to torture centers in countries such as Egypt and Uzbekistan, not to mention Guantanamo. CCDBR is taking the lead in exposing the role of Boeing Corporation in providing logistic “travel services” for these torture flights through its subsdiary Jeppesen Dataplan: we are spearheading a coalition including representatives of CAIR, 8th Day Center for Justice, and “KickBoeingtotheCurb,” to hold Boeing to account for its collusion in this most egregious violation of human rights. We are committed to opposing and stopping torture whether it is perpetrated by Chicago police officers or by CIA operatives abetted by a giant corporation headquartered in Chicago.

We are aware that few of our activities come to a dramatic, successful conclusion; and we acknowledge that we must operate with limited resources. But we know that with patience and continuing effort, we can help many small voices merge into one powerful one. In a climate of cynically induced fear, the worst offense is passivity and silence.

As you make your contributions for the end of the calendar year, please consider making a special donation to promote our work, using the enclosed envelope. Monthly contributions from sustainers are especially welcome. If you make your check out to the Bill of Rights Foundation, it will support our educational work and is tax deductible.

No other organization matches what CCDBR does: we CAN continue to make a difference. Members of our board of directors are active on a broad variety of fronts, including prisoners’ rights, antiwar efforts, feeding the homeless, and HIV education, as well as civil rights and civil liberties.

We want to express our deepest thanks for the help and financial backing so many of you have already provided in the past year, not to mention the contributions of our sustainers over many years.

Sincerely,
Bob Clarke
for the CCDBR Board