CREEC and SPLC Send Letter Urging Etowah County Officials to Make Outdoor Recreation Available to ICE Detainees As Part of Jail Renovations

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Civil Rights Groups Urge Etowah County Commission and Sheriff to Include Outdoor Recreation Access in Detention Center Renovations

Holding detained immigrants inside for months, even years without access to fresh air and sunlight may violate their constitutional rights

GADSDEN, Ala. — The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) and the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) sent a letter today to the Etowah County Commission and Etowah County Sheriff, urging officials to include outdoor recreation for immigration detainees in renovation plans for the Etowah County Detention Center (ECDC).

The ECDC, located in Gadsden, Alabama, holds about 300 detained immigrants under a contract with the U.S. Marshals and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agencies. The existing facility does not provide detainees with access to outdoor recreation, which means that some detainees spend months, or even years, without going outside. Etowah County is considering renovations to the ECDC, but the plans do not appear to include outdoor recreational space.

The lack of outdoor recreational space implicates the due process rights of detainees under the U.S. Constitution, the letter says. “Not only do immigrants detained by ICE have a constitutional right to outdoor recreation while they are held at ECDC, access to physical activity, sunlight, and fresh air is crucial to their well-being,” Tim Fox, co-executive director of CREEC, said. “There is no reason the sheriff and the county cannot make outdoor recreation available to ICE detainees as part of their other changes to the facility.”

ICE’s own Performance Based National Detention Standards state that facilities should provide at least one hour, and preferably at least four hours, of access to outdoor recreation and that detainees in facilities that do not meet this standard may request a voluntary transfer to another detention center.

“The fact that the county would undertake renovations to the Etowah County Detention Center without adding access to outdoor recreation demonstrates their indifference both to the experiences of the immigrants in their custody and to the standards that govern that custody,” said Lisa Graybill, deputy legal director at the SPLC.

“If the county facility cannot meet ICE’s standards, Etowah County should not be entrusted with detainees, and ICE should place them elsewhere.”

Read a copy of the Letter here.

SPLC and other groups issued a report, Shadow Prisons: Immigrant Detention in the South, on conditions, including this issue at Etowah.


ADA Defense Abuse: A Case Study

ADA Defense Lawyers Prolong Litigation and Postpone Access:  A Case Study of Litigation Abuse

 Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) prohibits disability discrimination by private businesses.  Lawyers who defend noncompliant businesses argue that their opposing counsel — lawyers who represent people with disabilities seeking to enforce their rights — engage in litigation abuse.  They are lobbying for passage of H.R. 620, a bill that would add the requirement of a specifically-worded demand letter and four-month waiting period before a disabled person could enforce their rights.

This case study of ADA defense litigation abuse suggests that ADA defense counsel are already guilty of prolonging litigation, postponing access, and ultimately enriching themselves at the expense of both the businesses they represent and the people with disabilities who continue to be denied access 28 years after the ADA was passed.

H.R. 620’s requirement of a demand letter will remove any incentive for voluntary compliance and will add a new round of motions for ADA defense attorneys to file — challenging the wording, content, and specificity of the demand letter — on top of the already unconscionable litigation delay that is their standard practice.

To demonstrate the opportunities for delay in which ADA defense counsel typically engage, we looked at a case that a group of retail trade associations held up as a typical Title III case.  In a recent amicus brief to the Third Circuit, lawyers for the National Association of Convenience Stores, the National Grocers Association, and the Food Marketing Institute singled out the case of Heinzl v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., No. 14-cv-1455 (W.D. Pa. May 12, 2017) for their anti-ADA invective.

We took a closer look at the Cracker Barrel case and discovered that it presented a fairly typical example of ADA defense lawyer abuse.  The case alleged that a chain of fast food restaurants had noncompliant parking lots.  Instead of assessing and remedying these violations, Cracker Barrel’s attorneys — including several known for their serial defense of hundreds of ADA lawsuits and for proactively work against enforcement of Title III — prolonged the litigation for two and a half years with multiple, meritless motions and obstruction.

Cracker Barrel’s seven lawyers took the following actions in litigation, all of which were unsuccessful.  These lawyers’ abuse of the system is perhaps best illustrated by the fact that Cracker Barrel admitted, 14 months into the case, that “the subject properties contained barriers to access that were in need of remediation,”[1] yet continued to litigate for another year.

During the course of the litigation, Cracker Barrel and its attorneys:

  1. moved unsuccessfully to dismiss the case, ECF 10, 14, 15;[2]
  2. objected unsuccessfully to the magistrate’s ruling denying their motion to dismiss, ECF 16, 19, 23, 35;
  3. moved unsuccessfully for a protective order to prevent site visits by the plaintiff, ECF 20, 24, 26, 36;
  4. moved unsuccessfully for a protective order to limit the scope of the plaintiff’s deposition of defendant’s most knowledgeable representative, ECF 30, 37;
  5. refused to engage in class-wide discovery, requiring plaintiffs to file a successful motion to compel, ECF 27, 29, 36;
  6. moved unsuccessfully to stay the litigation, ECF 32, 37;
  7. refused to comply with the order granting the plaintiff’s motion to compel class-wide discovery, see ECF 41-2, requiring the plaintiff to move for sanctions, ECF 41, 43, 44; while the court did not impose sanctions, it imposed a deadline by which Cracker Barrel would have to produce class-wide discovery, ECF 47;
  8. moved unsuccessfully to compel discovery from the plaintiff, ECF 55, 60, 62;
  9. moved prematurely — and ultimately unsuccessfully — for summary judgment, ECF 64, 100, 105, 106, 113, in response to which the plaintiff moved successfully for additional discovery, ECF 74, 82;
  10. moved unsuccessfully to stay all proceedings pending ruling on its summary judgment motion, ECF 71, 78, 81, 82;
  11. unsuccessfully objected to the magistrate’s recommendation to deny its summary judgment motion, ECF 116, 126;[3]
  12. withheld ADA surveys of challenged facilities requiring plaintiff to file a successful motion to compel, ECF 76, 85, 87, 93;[4]
  13. moved unsuccessfully for a third protective order, ECF 91, 92, 96;
  14. unsuccessfully opposed the plaintiff’s motion for class certification, ECF 103, 108, 110, 113;
  15. unsuccessfully objected to the magistrate’s recommendation to grant the motion for class certification, ECF 116, 119, 123, 126;[5]
  16. unsuccessfully petitioned the Third Circuit Court of Appeals pursuant to Rule 23(f) to challenge class certification; and
  17. unsuccessfully moved — for a third time — to stay proceedings pending resolution of its Rule 23(f) petition, ECF 131, 134;
  18. unsuccessfully objected to the magistrate’s recommendation to deny the stay, ECF 135, 136, 137.

The case was filed in October, 2014, demanding that Cracker Barrel bring its parking lots into compliance with the ADA.  ECF 1.  In May, 2017, after all of the motions and maneuvers listed above, Cracker Barrel agreed to precisely this relief:  that it would survey it stores and bring the parking lots into compliance with the ADA.  ECF 163-1. In the meantime, people with mobility disabilities went another two and a half years without accessible parking, and Cracker Barrel’s lawyers billed their client for the time spent drafting and filing 21 separate briefs in pursuit of this campaign of delay. 

H.R. 620 will add yet another layer of process — another hoop to jump through — before people with disabilities can have the access guaranteed them when the ADA was passed in 1990.  It will also add to the list above another motion that ADA defense counsel can be paid to file.

The above Case Study is available in MS Word here.

The above Case Study is available in PDF here.


[1] See Heinzl v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Stores, Inc., No. 2:14-cv-1455, 2016 WL 2347367, at *11 (W.D. Pa. Jan. 27, 2016).

[2]  The numbers following each item refer to the docket numbers in the PACER Electronic Case Filing system,  All substantive filings related to each item are listed, including motions and orders.

[3] Heinzl v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., No. 2:14-CV-1455, 2016 WL 1761963 (W.D. Pa. Apr. 29, 2016).

[4]  Heinzl v. Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, Inc., No. 2:14-CV-1455, 2015 WL 6604015 (W.D. Pa. Oct. 29, 2015).

[5]  Heinzl, 2016 WL 1761963.


CREEC Files Lawsuit Demanding DHS and ICE Documentation of Conditions at Immigration Detention Centers

Lawsuit Filed Demanding Homeland Security and ICE Documentation of Conditions at Two Immigration Detention Centers


DENVER (February 7, 2018) – The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) has filed a lawsuit seeking the disclosure of documentation of detainee deaths, alleged abuse and other substandard conditions of confinement at the Adelanto and Etowah immigration detention facilities.  CREEC is represented pro bono by Thomas B. Kelley and Amber R. Gonzales of Ballard Spahr LLP.

The suit claims that U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have illegally ignored requests for information on conditions at the two immigration detention centers.  CREEC filed a series of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests in August and September 2017 seeking information on deaths of people in detention, medical and mental health care conditions, solitary confinement use, and sexual assault allegations at the Adelanto ICE Processing Center, a private facility operated by the GEO Group in Adelanto, California, and the Etowah County Detention Center, a county jail in Gadsden, Alabama.

“Adelanto and Etowah are widely regarded as among the most concerning immigration detention centers in the country,” said Tim Fox, co-executive director of CREEC.  “The government cannot ignore its obligation to provide public access to documentation shedding light on the conditions at these facilities.”

The lawsuit alleges that, despite a requirement by law that a response must be provided within 30 days, ICE has failed to respond to any of CREEC’s requests.  The lawsuit seeks an order from the court requiring ICE to release the requested documents.

“We’re excited at the opportunity to move the ball toward accountability for how ICE treats human beings it confines without process, and at the same time address the current willingness of the federal government generally to ignore Congress’ guarantee of public access to records of what it is up to,” said Mr. Kelley.

Advocacy groups and media outlets have reported the substandard conditions at Adelanto and Etowah for years.  Since 2011, six people have died in ICE custody at Adelanto.  In 2017, there were three deaths, including one from apparent suicide.  CREEC requested documentation produced by ICE in the wake of these deaths. In the two case records made publicly available in response to prior FOIA requests from other organizations, ICE records acknowledge that both men who died received unacceptably poor medical care.

Christina Fialho, co-founder and co-executive director of the non-profit Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC), which monitors and reports on conditions at the Adelanto facility, said, “We have received reports for years that conditions at Adelanto are extremely poor, including inadequate medical care resulting numerous deaths of people in detention.  It is vital the public have access to ICE records that document those conditions.”

At Etowah, there are claims that hundreds of detainees are held for prolonged periods of time without access to outdoor recreation or direct sunlight.  There have been widespread allegations of sexual assault, medical neglect, and substandard medical and mental health care.  Due in part to its remote location and the low rates of legal representation among ICE detainees at Etowah, there is very little publicly available information about conditions there, which led to CREEC request for ICE records.  “The living conditions and treatment at the Etowah Detention Center are undeniably inhumane.  Even DHS agreed recently that the facility should be shut down, and they were on the brink of doing so previously in 2010.  As members of the public and Alabama residents, it is our right to have access to the records of what occurs there in order to hold these systems accountable,” said Anna Thomas, a member of the Shut Down Etowah campaign, a grassroots campaign committed to exposing and ending the human rights abuses at the Etowah County Detention Center.

To learn more about the case click here.

To read the Press Release in Spanish click here. 


H.R. 620 = Amnesty for Access

Congress is considering a bill  — H.R. 620 — that would absolve all businesses currently in violation of the access requirements of Title III of the ADA — in place since 1990 — and permit them to wait to receive notice from a disabled person who encounters its discrimination, and then wait another six months to perhaps get some sort of solution underway.  DREDF has some excellent resources and talking points.  I thought this infographic might help explain how this bill rewards scofflaws and stops the progress of accessibility of the built environment.  [There’s a separate image description of the infographic here.]

Pepsi Center to Provide Open Captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sports Fans

Pepsi Center to Provide Open Captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Sports Fans

Class action settlement provides for captioning on LED boards at non-concert events.

DENVER January 25, 2018 – Kirstin Kurlander and Kroenke Arena Company are pleased to announce that the Pepsi Center will start providing open captioning for Deaf and Hard of Hearing sports fans beginning this fall.

The Pepsi Center — a roughly 18,000-seat arena in downtown Denver — is home to the Colorado Avalanche, Denver Nuggets, and Colorado Mammoth.  Starting with the first preseason Avalanche game in October of this year, the Pepsi Center will caption all of the information spoken over the public address system on LED ribbon boards mounted on the front of the third level at the four corners of the arena.

Ms. Kurlander, a deaf woman and Mammoth season-ticket holder, filed a class action lawsuit against the company that owns and operates the Pepsi Center in 2016, after informally requesting captions at the arena.  The Pepsi Center began providing captions on handheld devices — smartphones or tablets — in late 2016, and has been working with Ms. Kurlander and her attorneys at the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) on a solution that provides open captioning that is generally visible throughout the arena.  The parties reached agreement at the end of last year and Judge Wiley Y. Daniel granted preliminary approval on January 9, 2018.

“I am very pleased that the Pepsi Center will provide captioning and I look forward to attending lacrosse and other games there with full access to the information broadcast in the arena,” said Ms. Kurlander.  Amy Robertson, Co-Executive Director at CREEC, added, “We were pleased with the Pepsi Center’s willingness to explore different solutions, and are glad that Deaf and Hard of Hearing sports fans will have equal access to games there.”

“The Pepsi Center has offered interpreters to its Deaf and Hard of Hearing patrons since its opening and, more recently, captioning on handheld devices at sporting events.  We are now pleased to offer open captioning in the arena for sporting and similar non-concert events,” said Jim Martin, President and Chief Executive Officer of Kroenke Arena Company.  Outside counsel for Kroenke Arena Company on this matter, Susan P. Klopman of H&K Law, LLC, added, “This addition continues to mark the Pepsi Center’s strong commitment to the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community.”

Judge Daniel has scheduled a hearing on the settlement on April 5, 2018 at 10:00.

Further information on the settlement and the hearing are available at


CREEC calls on AG, DA to approve compensation for Clarence Moses-EL, falsely imprisoned for 28 years.

Clarence Moses-EL was falsely imprisoned for 28 years.  After he was released, the former Denver D.A., Mitch Morrissey, decided to retry him.  This jury found him not guilty, and he’s now free after losing the best part of his life.  Susan Greene has a complete — and hair-raising — description of the case in her Colorado Independent article.  I urge everyone to sign the petition on Change.Org urging the current D.A. Beth McCann and the Colorado Attorney General, Cynthia Coffman, to approve compensation for his lost years, and not force a third trial.  Tomorrow is the deadline, so please sign today!

Below is CREEC’s letter to Ms. Coffman and Ms. McCann:

January 25, 2018

Cynthia H. Coffman
Colorado Attorney General
Ralph L. Carr Judicial Building
1300 Broadway, 10th Floor
Denver, CO 80203

Beth McCann
Denver District Attorney
201 W. Colfax Ave.
Denver, CO 80202

RE: Compensation Due Clarence Moses-EL

Dear General Coffman and District Attorney McCann:

I am writing to urge that you not oppose compensation for Clarence Moses-EL.

The Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center is a Denver-based nonprofit devoted to protecting civil rights in all walks of life. My Co-Executive Director, Tim Fox, and I are both Colorado lawyers and Denver residents — and we are both devoted to the integrity of the justice system in the state and the city we love.

We are deeply concerned about the treatment of Mr. Moses-EL’s case over the past 30 years. It is hard to read about this flawed process — the destruction of dispositive evidence, a conviction based on a dream, and a retrial (opposed by Ms. McCann during her campaign) based on the sudden recollections, decades after the event, of an admittedly impaired witness — without profound sadness for Mr. Moses-EL, for our system of justice, and for the actions that are being taken in our name, as Denverites and Colorado lawyers.

Mr. Moses-EL was imprisoned unjustly for 28 years. While we cannot give him back those years, we must help him build the life that was taken from him.

You are both experienced and esteemed lawyers, charged with doing justice for our state and our city, respectively. You have the ability to facilitate Mr. Moses-EL’s return to society and support his children’s education. And you have the ability to save Mr. Moses-EL from the almost unimaginable trauma of a third trial — one in which he would be forced to prove his innocence without the dispositive evidence destroyed by the police.

We respectfully request, in the name of justice and mercy, that you not oppose Mr. Moses-EL’s request for compensation.



/s/ Amy F. Robertson

CREEC, Disabled Professional Women File Amicus Brief Supporting Title III Class Actions

When an accessibility barrier at a chain of businesses affects people with similar disabilities in the same way — narrow queue lines at a restaurant; steps at the entrance to a store; parking lots with excessive slope — the most efficient way to address these violations is through a class action under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) against the common owner or operator.  This was the conclusion reached by a federal district court in Pennsylvania in an order certifying a class of people with mobility disabilities challenging noncompliant parking lots at Steak ‘N Shake restaurants around the country.

Steak ‘N Shake challenged this decision in the Third Circuit, supported by two amicus briefs on behalf of various business associations including the National Retail Federation and the Chamber of Commerce.

CREEC — for itself and disability rights legends Corbett O’Toole, Julie Farrar, Carrie Ann Lucas, and Julie Reiskin — filed an amicus brief to the Third Circuit in support of the plaintiffs and the righteousness of Title III class actions.  Eve Hill, of Brown, Goldstein & Levy, and Michelle Uzeta drafted an amicus brief on behalf of Disability Rights Pennsylvania and the National Disability Rights Network, also supporting the plaintiffs, and explaining the importance of not just achieving, but maintaining access for people with disabilities.

CREEC’s brief explained the many ways in which Title III cases — based on objective measurements and the DOJ’s design standards — are ideally suited for class treatment.  CREEC also took the opportunity to respond to Steak ‘N Shake’s amici — the business associations — who filed briefs full of insults and random context-free statistics designed to demonize Title III plaintiffs and belittle the important task of making the commercial world more accessible.

For example, Defendant’s amici urged alarm that there were so many Title III lawsuits — 6,601 in 2016 and possibly 7,887 in 2017.  We had some fun looking up the source of their numbers and showing how they compared with other categories of lawsuits.  Turns out they were citing to a ADA defense law firm’s blog, which had warned that its analysis “may not be bullet proof.”  We were able to respond with a chart — you know we’re numbers nerds here at CREEC — showing that the number of cases filed under Titles II and III of the ADA — coded “ADA – Other” — are very low in contrast to other types of cases.  These numbers are drawn from statistics gathered by the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts.

Image: a line graph with the years 2006 to 2016 on the x axis and numbers 10,000 to 100,000 on the y axis. 7 colored lines cross the graph horizontally, each representing a type of case. The top line is a jagged line representing tort cases (varying between 50,000 and 90,000. The bottom line is "ADA - Other" vary from 1,400 to about 7,000.

[There is an image description for the chart in alt text.  You can also access the underlying Excel spreadsheet here.]

Defendant’s amici also rolled out the usual epithets — “drive-by,” “cottage industry,” “shakedown,” blah blah blah.  The CREEC amicus brief called them out for this playground-level name-calling:

Litigation by insult is not uncommon in the Title III context and may, again, stem from the fact that liability is so easily established.  Rather than surveying their facilities and bringing them into compliance — or raising legitimate, civilly-argued defenses — many businesses resort to the type of name-calling present in the Defendant’s amicus briefs here.  The undersigned searched Westlaw’s “Trial Court Documents – Civil Trial Documents” database for pleadings filed in Title III cases since 2002 that used one or more of the following terms:  “vexatious;” “shakedown;” “abusive;” “serial;” “bilk;” “cottage;” “extort!;” or “drive-by.”  The search returned over 1,200 results.  In many cases, identical sentences or even paragraphs appeared in pleadings in different cases involving different parties and different barriers — but filed by the same defense counsel with, apparently, the same language ready to copy and paste from one pleading to the next.

We also found it amusing that Steak ‘N Shake argued both that the case was so complex that it would require “mini-trials”* but so vague that it would be impossible to craft an injunction beyond “obey the law.”

It is contradictory for Defendant to complain simultaneously about its perceived need for “mini-trials” and its perception that the only possible injunction is an “obey the law” injunction.  . . .  Compliance, for Defendant, is either too complex or too general.  Like Goldilocks,** however, the district court should not have difficulty formulating an injunction that is just right:  one that requires Defendant, based on complete or symptomatic evidence, to remediate noncompliant parking spaces; and to promulgate a policy to include this in existing maintenance procedures.

Ultimately, the most important point to keep in mind is that plaintiffs who bring multiple ADA lawsuits are a feature, not a bug.  As the Supreme Court held, with respect to the provision that was adopted as the ADA’s enforcement provision:

When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed, it was evident that enforcement would prove difficult and that the Nation would have to rely in part upon private litigation as a means of securing broad compliance with the law. A Title II suit is thus private in form only. When a plaintiff brings an action under that Title, he cannot recover damages. If he obtains an injunction, he does so not for himself alone but also as a ‘private attorney general,’ vindicating a policy that Congress considered of the highest priority. . . . . Congress therefore enacted the provision for counsel fees—not simply to penalize litigants who deliberately advance arguments they know to be untenable but, more broadly, to encourage individuals injured by racial discrimination to seek judicial relief under Title II.

Newman v. Piggie Park Enters., Inc., 390 U.S. 400, 401–02 (1968) (emphasis added).

It was a terrific experience writing for Corbett, Julie F., Julie R., and Carrie, and working with Michelle and Eve during the drafting process.  Easily the coolest thing about being a lawyer is working on a great team.  And we love writing amicus briefs here at CREEC, so if you need someone to call baloney on bogus statistics and clap back at silly name-calling, keep us in mind!


*Can you blame me for picturing Lego mini-figure lawyers and judges every time some defendant argues that a class action will require “mini-trials.”

Image: courtroom with judge, witness and two lawyers at counsel table, all made out of Lego.

Photo credit: Stewart & Sydney’s Flickr page. (Check it out – it’s a total Lego city!)

** Credit for the “Goldilocks” metaphor to Erica Grossman, who deployed it skillfully when a defendant initially argued that her complaint was too short, and then — in a second motion — that it was too long.  And you wonder why plaintiffs’ civil rights lawyers develop a sarcastic sense of humor!


2017: CREEC’s Year in Review

Here is a quick overview of what CREEC has been up to this year.  Thanks to everyone who supported us, worked alongside us, made us think, made us laugh, and made us hope.  We work hard to be worthy of your support and hope you’ll consider us in your year-end giving.

Happy New Year and onward to a more just and joyous 2018!

I think I made the images accessible, but if not, you can also read it in a pdf version.

CREEC, CIVIC File Litigation Hold to Preserve Sexual Assault Records of People in Immigration Detention

For Immediate Release, November 7, 2017

LOS ANGELES, CA – Community Initiatives for Visiting Immigrants in Confinement (CIVIC) and the Civil Rights Education and Enforcement Center (CREEC) are putting the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) on notice over ICE’s plan to destroy the records of immigrants in detention, including deaths in custody, solitary confinement and sexual assault.

In late August, ICE petitioned the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) for permission to start routinely destroying 11 kinds of records on several proposed timelines. CIVIC and CREEC sent ICE a litigation hold letter which, according to Tim Fox, an attorney and the Co-Executive Director of CREEC, “places ICE on notice that litigation may be commenced concerning the topics covered in the letter, and thus ICE has a duty to preserve related documents, and this is true even if NARA approves ICE’s petition.”

“These records are vital to anticipated litigation. They are essential to obtaining justice for those individuals who’ve needlessly suffered at the hands of government officials,” says Christina Fialho, an attorney and the Co-Founder/Executive Director of CIVIC.

Earlier this year, CIVIC filed a civil rights complaint after uncovering, through a Freedom of Information Act request, widespread sexual abuse, assault and harassment in U.S. immigration detention facilities. CIVIC uncovered that between January 2010 and July 2016, Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General received over 33,000 complaints of sexual assault or physical abuse against DHS’s component agencies. But the Inspector General investigated less than 1 percent of these cases.

For example, Rosanna Santos was sexually harassed by a male guard at the York County Jail in Pennsylvania while she was in immigration detention. She was one of the named complainants in CIVIC’s federal civil rights complaint earlier this year. Rosanna says: “I spoke out about the sexual harassment so that something would be done for all those other women I knew who were being silenced. Destroying the evidence is not going to erase our traumatic memories or help bring those who are responsible for sexual violence to justice.”

The federal government has shown no interest in a proper and full investigation. And now, it wants to destroy sexual abuse and assault records. That won’t happen on our watch.

“We won’t let ICE willfully destroy evidence of systematic wrongdoing,” said Fialho. “ICE is now on notice that if they try to destroy these records, they will be subject to legal consequences.”

Click here to read CREEC & CIVIC’s letter to ICE.



CREEC, Disability Rights Organizations File Cake Amicus!

Image:  front cover of the amicus brief; full text available at link.CREEC joined nine other disability rights organizations in filing an amicus brief in the Supreme Court in the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, in support of the gay couple turned away from a Colorado bakery based on the owner’s prejudice.  The Colorado Court of Appeals held in favor of the couple, recognizing that the baker violated their rights under the Colorado Anti-Discrimination Act (“CADA”), and the Colorado Supreme Court declined to review.  The case is currently before the United States Supreme Court on the baker’s argument that it violates his first amendment rights of free exercise and free expression to force him to make a cake that would be used in a gay wedding.  The statute at issue — CADA  — prohibits discrimination in public accommodations based on disability as well as sexual orientation and a number of other protected classes; Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act also prohibits disability discrimination in public accommodations.

CREEC and other organizations filed their amicus brief to caution the Court that recognizing personal scruples exceptions — including free exercise or free expression — to the general requirement that public accommodations serve everyone without discrimination could significantly jeopardize enforcement of Title III and the protections it affords people with disabilities to fully participate in our nation’s economic and commercial life.

CREEC strongly urges the Supreme Court to affirm the Colorado Court of Appeals and reaffirm our commitment that American businesses are #OPENTOALL.

We would also like to thank the rockstars at Rosen, Bien, Galvan and Grunfeld who wrote the brief, and our fellow amici for the terrific discussions the brief engendered.



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