September 11, 2020

This has been a year of change for all of us, and the ACLU of Virginia is no different. Some of this change has been positive, and much of it has brought new challenges. The common thread throughout this past year has been the resilience of our organization, our members, supporters and donors, our partners, our staff, and everyone across Virginia working to make positive change in the age of COVID-19. 

Last November brought a change in the state legislature that allowed us to make progress on issues we have been working on for decades. Rather than focusing our energies on defeating bad bills that would encroach on our civil liberties, we were able to make real positive change on voting and abortion rights, pass state anti-discrimination laws that include LGBTQ+ people, and begin to take steps toward dismantling the structural racism in our criminal legal system.
When the pandemic hit, like many of you, we adapted to working remotely. We knew civil liberties would be under attack in the name of public safety, and we set up a COVID-19 hotline to hear directly from folks who experienced government overreach. Hundreds of people reached out to us through this hotline, most of them to tell us about inhumane and unsanitary conditions in prisons and jails. It quickly became clear that the most important thing we could do in the pandemic was focus our resources on advocacy to keep people out of jails and prisons and to get released from custody medically vulnerable people who don’t present a physical danger to any other person. 

George Floyd’s murder and the Black activists who have spoken out against police brutality have changed so many hearts and minds in recent months. We are continuing to adapt to this crisis of state-sponsored violence against Black people, both in the systemic racism in policing and law enforcement response to Black Lives Matter protests. 

All these changes are ongoing. We hope you will continue to be a part of our work as we adapt our organization to meet the moment. Stay safe, stay strong, and stay resilient.