ACLU Membership Conference Mobilizes Activists to 'Stand Up for Freedom'

July 6, 2004 12:00 am

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Richard Clarke, Seymour Hersh Among Speakers at Conference; Keynote Sessions to be Webcast at


SAN FRANCISCO-Two thousand “”card-carrying”” members and supporters of the American Civil Liberties Union are converging in San Francisco today for the organization’s second annual membership conference, an event the ACLU called a central rallying point for activists to come together and mobilize support for protecting civil liberties at a time when the federal government is curtailing privacy and speech in the name of national security.

“”We are mobilizing ACLU members to send a clear message to the White House and Congress: Protect our civil liberties and keep America both safe and free,”” said ACLU Executive Director Anthony D. Romero. “”Once energized in San Francisco, we anticipate ACLU members will return to their hometowns and use their training to mobilize their family, friends and neighbors to stand up for freedom and fight to protect the Constitution.””

The intensive three-day conference will feature a comprehensive action center for members to get the latest information on a wide range of civil liberties issues, including the PATRIOT Act, a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and challenges to religious liberty. The action center will also offer activists an opportunity to participate in a first-ever “” Virtual Lobby Day ,”” in which constituents can record and send their own video statements to members of Congress. This new resource will allow conference participants in San Francisco to communicate virtually face-to-face with their Representatives in Washington. The action center will also provide training for members on how to lobby effectively and offer phone banks for phone calls to Washington.

“”ACLU members are coming together to ensure that our government actually honors the ideals that it was founded on: liberty and justice for all,”” said ACLU President Nadine Strossen. “”Our members know that the ACLU will work tirelessly to protect the civil liberties of everyone in America, and to stand up against government abuses, especially in times of war and national security crises.””

During the conference, ACLU members will also meet with and hear from top political leaders and newsmakers, including Howard Dean, Richard Clarke , Seymour Hersh, and Mayor Gavin Newsom .

The conference opens this afternoon and runs through Thursday evening. All plenary sessions and addresses by keynote speakers will be webcast live at .

Conference highlights include:

  • A plenary lunch on balancing national security and civil liberties with a keynote address from Richard Clarke , former White House terrorism czar, followed by a panel discussion with Coleen Rowley , FBI whistleblower and one of Time Magazine’s 2002 Persons of the Year, Kathleen Sullivan , Dean of Stanford Law School, former Congressman Bob Barr; and attorneys Frank Dunham , who represented Yaser Hamdi before the Supreme Court and Jim Brosnahan , who represented accused “”American Taliban”” John Walker Lindh ; Moderated by Nadine Strossen ( July 8, 12 noon )
  • ACLU Gala Dinner featuring investigative journalist Seymour Hersh and director John Sayles ; Performances by comedians Greg Proops and Sandra Tsing Loh ; Screening of Michael Moore’s controversial new documentary, “”Fahrenheit 9/11″” ( July 7, 6:15 p.m. )
  • “”Freedom’s Foundation: The First Amendment”” discussed by ACLU President Nadine Strossen , Americans United for Separation of Church and State Executive Director Barry Lynn and National Rifle Association Executive Director Wayne LaPierre ; Moderated by National Public Radio correspondent Ina Jaffe ( July 8, 8:30 a.m. )
  • A debate on civil liberties and the war on terror featuring former governor of Vermont and Democratic presidential candidate Howard Dean and Chairman of the Republican Governors’ Association Governor Bill Owens of Colorado. ( July 8, 4:00 p.m. )
  • San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom delivers keynote address at “”Say ‘I Do’ to Marriage for Same-Sex Couples””; Panel discussion and break-out sessions with Rev. Cecil Williams, Pastor of Glide Memorial United Methodist Church, Mandy Carter of the National Black Justice Coalition, Martin Ornelas-Quintero , director of the National Latina/o Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Organization, among others ( July 7, 9:30 a.m. )

Founded in 1920, the ACLU is the nation’s premier guardian of liberty, working daily in courts, legislatures and communities to defend and preserve the individual rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution and the laws of the United States. Headquartered in New York City, the ACLU has 53 staffed affiliates in major cities, more than 300 chapters nationwide, and a legislative office in Washington.

Anthony D. Romero has been Executive Director of the national ACLU since 2001; Nadine Strossen was elected president of the National Board in 1991.

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