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ACLU of Alabama

Help to investigate a municipal police department’s use of force policy

This project will help monitor/audit police compliance with its own use of force policy, if any, and inform our evaluation of the propriety of chemical and nonlethal/less-lethal weapon deployment.

Posted August 21, 2020

Background & Context

Since the death of George Floyd in late May 2020, we have had protests and demonstration events across the state. In our first major protest actions in the City of Huntsville, city, county, and state police responded to peaceful protestors by deploying non-lethal, less lethal, and chemical weapons.

The ACLU of Alabama is interested in reviewing and potentially challenging as constitutionally invalid the City of Huntsvill's use of force as to protestors in late May and as to subsequent protests that did not meet the municipality's use of force protocols, if any such protocols exist, through an open records act project. Contact Tish Gotell Faulks, Legal Director at the ACLU of Alabama,, if you are interested in helping with this work in Alabama.

Immediate Problem

We continue to monitor police in their response to protest activity, though we have not seen a return to deploying nonlethal, less lethal, and chemical weapons.

Work & Deliverables

We need a draft demand letter to the City of Huntsville seeking (1) the nonlethal, less lethal and chemical weapon deployment policy, (2) an inventory of those armaments, (3) manufacturer information for the armaments, (4) ingredient list for the chemical weapons, (5) any manufacturing cautions or recalls of materials. Alabama municipalities are NOTORIOUS for their lack of transparency as to this information, so it would be helpful if the volunteer is prepared to push for this information. This may evolve into litigation in state court to compel disclosure.

This project is complete!

This project has been completed thanks to the efforts of our volunteers.

Visit the Project Directory to check out other projects that still need your help!

Additional Information

  • Time Commitment: 1-5 hours
  • Training Provided: No
  • Site-Preference: Remote
  • Open to Law Students: No
  • Bar License(s) required: Any Bar License
  • Required Languages: None
  • Required Legal Expertise: Administrative Law, Civil Rights, Good Government
  • Mentoring Provided: No
  • Supervision Provided: Yes
ACLU of Alabama

American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama is freedom’s watchdog; we work in the courts, legislatures and communities to defend the individual rights and personal freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. The ACLU is a private, non-profit membership organization. Our mission is to preserve and protect the civil liberties and civil rights guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution, especially the principles contained in the Bill of Right. Among the issues we work on are freedom of speech, freedom of religion, government-sponsored religious activities, privacy, discrimination based on race, gender, sexual orientation or disability, police misconduct, censorship in schools or libraries, fairness in application of school discipline, workplace privacy, access to government documents, inhumane jail and prison conditions, and other issues of fair treatment by government. The ACLU is neither a government agency nor a general legal services organization, and we normally do not provide emergency services. We have limited resources and staff and are unable to pursue every case that comes to our attention. All requests for legal assistance must be submitted in writing. We do not do in-person interviews and we do not accept walk-ins.

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