Chapter News

October 13, 2014

downtown Miami at night, central business district

November 4, 2017

Voting Restoration Amendment: Floridians can say yes to second chances by joining campaign

October 22, 2017

Citizens queue up to vote at Miami City Hall. Photo by Jeff Borg.

By Baylor Johnson

ONE OF THE FIRST things I witnessed after I became part of the staff of the ACLU of Florida was what happens when politicians are given the power to decide who gets to be a part of our democratic process and who gets left out.

I joined the staff just weeks before a new governor and cabinet were sworn in. In one of their first acts, this new cabinet made a decision that has added tens of thousands of people to the total who cannot vote in Florida — and our state constitution allows them to do it.

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Voting rights: How you can say yes to second chances

October 22, 2017

WE NEED A MILLION total signatures before New Year’s Day to get on the ballot in 2018. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Registered Florida voters can download a Voting Restoration Amendment petition at Print extra forms and give them to friends.
  2. Mail the forms to: ACLU of Florida, 4343 West Flagler Street, Suite 400, Miami, FL 33134-1585.
  3. Get active with your local chapter. Email Secretary Nicole Sinder, miamiaclusec at
  4. Find local events on the People Power site,, or host your own.

President’s message: Now that you’ve joined, time to take the next step

October 22, 2017

Christopher Brochyus makes introductions at the 2017 Law Day Reception. Photo by Jeff Borg.

By Christopher Brochyus

THE MIAMI-DADE civil rights community has chosen to resist the injustices that have been manifesting locally and nationally over the past ten months. We are in a period of anxiety, and the response from our local community has been tremendous. Our membership has increased strikingly.

For the first time in over a decade, we are the largest chapter in Florida. From meetings to events to protests, Miami residents have answered the call. As our numbers swell, so do the opportunities to become more actively engaged in our chapter and to work together with us.

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Immigration: ACLU Freedom Cities initiative fails in City of Miami Beach after Mayor Levine skips vote

October 22, 2017

By Jeffrey Hearne

PRESIDENT TRUMP and the Department of Justice (DOJ) have sought to encourage, and where that has failed, to compel local law enforcement agencies to help the administration pursue its mass deportation agenda. On March 11, 2017, at the Resistance Training held at the University of Miami, the ACLU announced its nationwide Freedom Cities initiative to oppose the deportation agenda.

The Miami Beach City Commission did not require police to obey new rules for fair and impartial policing. Photo by Jonathan Piccolo.

This campaign encouraged ACLU members to speak with local officials and police chiefs to request that cities and counties enact ordinances or pass resolutions affirming the constitutional rights of its immigrant residents.

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Solicitation: Court rules Miami’s downtown panhandling ban unconstitutional

October 22, 2017

Miami-Dade County Courthouse. Photo by Jeff Borg.

By Lauren Kain Whaley

ON APRIL 21, 2015, City of Miami Police arrested Andrew Toombs for panhandling on the streets of downtown Miami. Arresting a homeless person begging for change on the streets of Miami has been a common occurrence for the local police department.

However, thanks to Toombs and the Miami-Dade Public Defender’s Office, City of Miami Police may no longer arrest people who are simply asking for change in downtown Miami. On August 3, 2017, the Eleventh Judicial Circuit Court of Florida in Miami-Dade County struck down as unconstitutional the City of Miami ordinance prohibiting “soliciting, begging, or panhandling” in the “Downtown Business District.”

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Florida Constitution Revision Commission: Chapter forum marks launch of civil liberties fight of our lives on 2018 ballot

October 22, 2017

By Carlene Sawyer

THE ACLU OF FLORIDA Greater Miami Chapter held an information and discussion forum on the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) on June 10 at the Miami Beach Community Church fellowship hall.

Howard Simon. Photo by Jeff Borg.

Howard Simon, the executive director of the ACLU of Florida, moderated a panel of civil rights activists representing issues and organizations that will be affected by any changes the com­mission effects.

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Death penalty: Florida’s death chamber gets back to business

October 22, 2017

By Todd Scher

FLORIDA’S 18-MONTH moratorium on executions ended on August 24, 2017, with the execution of Mark James Asay. Since then, Governor Rick Scott has resumed the signing of death warrants now that the courts have resolved many of the legal issues about the constitutionality of Florida’s death penalty.

Despite the fact that well over 100 death row inmates have had their death sentences vacated in light of court rulings that have declared Florida’s capital sentencing statute unconstitutional, the Florida Supreme Court has thus far refused to apply these rulings to older death penalty cases, thus leaving many inmates vulnerable to execution.

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Profile: Peter Beach: Miami Beach artist and civil rights activist takes on social media for local chapter

October 22, 2017

By Christina Mancing

PETER BEACH is a new board member of the ACLU of Florida Greater Miami Chapter; he has a unique background and strong activism roots that have already made him an invaluable member of our group.

Peter Beach, civil libertarian

Beach grew up in a small town near Boston. His childhood activities consisted of Boy Scouts, baseball, bicycles, and fishing. As a grade-school kid in the mid-late 1960s, the social injustices he saw on television, including race riots, segregation, the Vietnam War, and Watergate, had a profound influence on his life, sparking his becoming a civil rights activist.

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