Whether it’s taking on the federal government, powerful corporations, or the NYPD, CCR never backs down from a fight when marginalized communities and individuals have suffered injustice. And we don’t give up, no matter how long it takes. With your loyal support, we scored some amazing victories in 2016.
Even as the coming battles under a Trump administration loom large, these wins are worth savoring – and sharing with your friends and family, because you helped make them happen!
1. No one, not even the president, can declare torture lawful. In October, an appeals court rejected private military contractor CACI’s latest effort to scuttle our lawsuit against them for its role in the torture of Iraqi civilians at Abu Ghraib. In doing so, the court issued the most definitive appellate court ruling on the illegality of torture in the post-9/11 era. In the face of an incoming president who has vowed to bring back waterboarding and “a hell of a lot worse,” this ruling is even more important.
2. Six CCR clients are released from Guantánamo. Fahd Ghazy, detained at age 17 and the subject of our short documentary Waiting for Fahd, was released in January. Tariq Ba Odah, who fought his unjust detention with the only means he had, his very body, through an eight-year hunger strike, was released in April, along with Mohammed Al-Hamiri. In July, Muhammadi Davliatov was released, and in August Zahir Hamdoun and Mohammed Kamin were released.
3. Indefinite solitary confinement in California drops by 99%. One year after our landmark settlement, all but a small handful of prisoners who were held under the rules that we challenged in our lawsuit were released from solitary. Meanwhile, leaders of the movement against solitary met twice with prison officials this year, also as part of the settlement. Giving prisoners a direct role in monitoring the settlement is unusual, but we fought for them to have a seat at the table as a necessary part of reform.
4. Federal prisons cannot segregate and restrict prisoners without reason or explanation. In a victory for Muslim prisoners, who comprise 60% of the restrictive Communications Managment Units (CMUs) even though they are only 6% of the total prison population, CCR’s case challenging the CMUs was reinstated in August. The ruling means the district court will now have to review the prisoners’ evidence of extensive due process violations and, we hope, will have reverberations for practices in other federal prison facilities.
5. Step by step, the NYPD is being reformed. The massive reform process ordered by a federal court in our historic case against the NYPD for its unconstitutional and discriminatory stop-and-frisk practices is in its second year. Without big fanfare, dozens of steps have been taken on the road to reform – from eliminating the notorious catch-all excuses of “furtive movement” and “suspicious bulge” and the form that tracks stops to unprecedented public input into the pilot body-worn camera policy and ongoing community forums soliciting the voices of affected communities in the reform process.
Along with these victories, and others, we also took on new challenges in 2016 – including new Guantánamo clients and cases; a lawsuit fighting for the release of documents about the surveillance of the Movement for Black lives; a Freedom of Information Law request seeking to uncover who was behind Governor Cuomo’s anti-boycott blacklist; and a challenge to Mississippi’s sodomy statute still on the books despite the 2003 Supreme Court ruling invalidating such laws.
2016 marked two rites of passage for CCR, the passing of CCR legend Michael Ratner, and our 50th anniversary. Michael’s death is a tremendous loss, but his incredible vision and leadership for 45 of CCR’s 50 years have left us strong and able to do him proud as we continue to fight for the values and rights he held so dear.
At no time in our history has that fight been more important that now as we face a racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic Trump administration that will take office amidst many warning signs of a slide into authoritarianism.
Two days before Trump takes office we will be in the Supreme Court in a case seeking accountability from high level Bush Administration officials for the post 9/11 dragnet sweeps and brutal detentions of Muslim, Arab, and South Asian men. Like our first challenge to Guantánamo in the Bush administration, this is really the first and most important test of executive power in a new Trump administration. We must prevail.
Your continued support is more important than ever. Together, we will fight all those targeted by Trumpism.