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PO Box 3952
Charleston, WV 25339

Michael Critchfield
Meet the WV High School Student
that fought his school system and
won protections for transgender students.
Article | 09-12
01 02

Table of Contents Making

Public Service
Letter from the President
List of Board Members
Regular West Virginians gather for two
Making Public Service Accessible 02 It has been a busy couple years for the ACLU of WV. months every year in Charleston to carry
None of our work could have been accomplished with- out our Constitution’s mandate that they
ACLU in your Community 03-04 out your donations, support, and involvement in make laws “for the common welfare, free-
actions across West Virginia. The ACLU, both nation- dom and security of ourselves and our
Fight to Defend Reproductive 05-07 ally and in the state, has experienced rapid growth posterity.” These citizen-legislators make
Freedom since the 2016 election. So first, I want to say thank great personal sacrifices to serve West
you from the bottom of my heart for your generosity. Virginia. We should be grateful for the
Why I Protested Brett Kavanaugh’s 08 significant time they are willing to spend away
Working in the area of civil rights and liberties has from their homes, families and jobs in service to our
Confirmation unique challenges and opportunities. The staff at the state.
organization has never been stronger. What we lack in When Delegate Estep-Burton was elected to office, her
Michael Critchfield 09-12 size is made up for with fierceness and experience. Newly elected legislators, like their longer-serving employer was concerned about the time her legislative
Several of you have probably met the staff at the many colleagues, come from all walks of life. Our citizen service would keep her away from the workplace. Her
events they attend in West Virginia. If you have not legislature is made up of doctors, lawyers, entrepre- boss reluctantly asked for her resignation. That’s
Legislative Update 13-21 had a chance to attend an event, please look for them neurs, and retirees. It is made up of teachers, nurses, when we stepped in. The ACLU of West Virginia and
Legislative Scorecard 18-19 happening around you. Or tell us you want to host an preachers, and even a cab driver. Attorney Walt Auvil sent a letter to Delegate
Bigotry in the Statehouse event in your area if we haven’t been around. Estep-Burton’s employer informing them of the West
20-21 One of the new legislators this past legislative session Virginia law that requires the vast majority of employ-
Last, I would like to talk about some of the great was Delegate Amanda Estep-Burton, who represents ers to provide employees with a leave of absence from
victories the organization has had. Loree Stark, our parts of Kanawha County. Delegate Estep-Burton is a work while they are serving in the state legislature.
Fixing WV’s Broken Criminal Justice 22-24 new Legal Director, has advocated for our friends in working mother of four children—two in high school, Once made aware of the law designed to protect the
System the LGBTQ community, particularly as it regards to one in elementary school and one toddler. Her experi- unique nature of our citizen legislature, her employer
the rights of trans students. Our Policy Director, Eli ences as a busy mom with a full-time job are probably immediately did the right thing and rescinded the
21 Years of Defending Civil Liberties 25-26 Baumwell, has worked tirelessly at the legislature, pretty similar to a lot of West request that she resign.
which has produced some significant victories in Virginians. And that is what
Our Shared Home Among the Hills 27-30 criminal justice reform for some of our most vulnera- makes our citizen legislature so This was a real victory for democracy. At a time when
ble citizens. These are only a couple examples. I could special—it is designed so that we hear so much about the troubles facing the Ameri-
go on. But even with all this great work, we still have we can be represented by can system of governance, it is extremely refreshing to
much to do before all Mountaineers are truly free. regular people. People like see our system work as it should. A working
That will require you! Please keep fighting, donating, us. person—the kind who needs a regular income to care
and working hard. We can do this! for her family—takes the brave step to run for office
Unfortunately, too frequently and she wins. A legal framework works as designed
working people don’t think and creates an environment where someone who isn’t
Jeff Martin that they can serve in the independently wealthy can serve her state. And an
President, ACLU-WV legislature. After all, even if employer steps up and honorably respects its legal
you have great ideas on how obligation to the people of West Virginia and their
to make our state better, representative form of governance.

whose boss would let them
President: Jeff Martin take off work for two Delegate Estep-Burton’s workplace situation should
Vice President Membership: Sonya Armstrong months every year to encourage more working class people in our state to
serve? Because of these run for office. It should also be a reminder to employ-

Secretary: Anna Osborne concerns, our legislature ers in West Virginia that they are required to respect
Vice President Development: Naomi Cohen is less representative of working people than it could their employees’ service to the state. The West Virgin-
be. However, working folks need to know that there ia legislature can only become a truly representative
Treasurer: Chuck E. Smith are laws in place that protect their job if they get body if it includes more people from all walks of life
National Board Rep: Frank Calabrese elected to the legislature. who can more fully represent the voices of all West
Others: Sue Barazi, Barbara Bayes, Marybeth Beller, Melissa Ellsworth, Rosemary Ketchum, Karen Kunz, Jack Magan,
Jamal Mustafa, Jennifer Oliva, Cassie Nicholas-Patterson, Tina Russell, Lida Shepherd, Dominique Villasenor
03 04

COM M U N I T Y Keep Families Together Rallies
On June 1, emergency rallies were held at U.S. Attorneys’ offices
across the country in response to the Justice Department’s new policy
of separating children from their parents at immigration detention
facilities. We held seven rallies across the state to stand up against
Throughout the year, the ACLU-WV has spent time in communities throughout the state provid- this horrific practice and to demand that we keep families together.
Later that month, Executive Director Joseph Cohen spoke two more
ing trainings and presentations, holding panels and discussions, fighting for your rights, tackling rallies on the subject. In July, we delivered demand letters to the
tough issues, and taking to the streets. In this past fiscal year, we have held more than 70 com- U.S. Attorneys in WV and held simultaneous rallies outside their
munity events in 14 counties across the state. offices in Clarksburg and Charleston. Soon afterwards, our staff
took a bus with the WV Interfaith Refugees Ministry to protest
outside of an ICE juvenile detention facility in Staunton, VA.

Presentations Vigils
Throughout the year we participated in
The ACLU-WV staff developed and presented panels and
discussions including some of these highlights:Executive
several vigils including a ‘Love Knows No Women’s March WV Rally
Director Joseph Cohen provided a presentation
Borders’ interfaith vigil in solidarity with
asylum seekers and other migrants at St. In January, activists across the state gathered in Charleston ACLU National
about his family’s holocaust story
discussed the connection to the
and John’s Episcopal Church in Charleston,
and candlelight vigils in Morgantown
on the second anniversary of the historic Women’s March to
recommit themselves to the struggle for peace and justice. Membership
modern day treatment of refugees. and Charleston in support of sexual
assault survivors during Kavanaugh’s
Terrible weather could not dampen the enthusiasm of the
crowd. And the inspiring speakers included three
Policy Director Eli Baumwell appointment process. ACLU-WV board members, Some staff, board members,
and Joseph Cohen moderated Rosemary Ketchum, Ibtesam and a group of stellar
a panel on the immigrant Barazi and Tiny activists headed to
experience in West Virginia. Gray-Russell. Washington, D.C.
for the first ACLU
Community Outreach Coordi- National Member-
nator Mollie Kennedy and Eli ship Conference
Baumwell gave a presentation
on working with immigrant PRIDE held in a decade.
We heard from
communities at the National Our staff had a blast attending Pride some fantastic
Social Workers of West Virginia 2018 Conference. events in Charleston, Huntington, speakers and
Shepherdstown, and Parkersburg. brought back
Legal Director Loree Stark and Joseph Cohen spoke at the lots of inspira-
Islamic Center in South Charleston about the Muslim ban tion and ideas
and its impact. for our state. And WV should be proud, we
had a higher percentage of our members attend the Nation-
Eli Baumwell held a discussion on civil disobedience at al Membership Conference than any other state in the
Buckhannon-Upshur High School. country!

held trainings Northern Panhandle
Parenthood 80’s Prom The ACLU-WV, along with Planned Parenthood South
Atlantic, The Women’s Health Center of West Virginia, and
throughout the
state on a wide
Chapter Annual Picnic
On May 19, the ACLU-WV WV FREE, hosted free screenings of RBG, the documenta- variety of topics. Staff, board members, volunteers, and members gathered in
and Planned Parenthood ry about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. After Our staff present- McMechen, WV for our annual picnic. We had great food,
South Atlantic gave our each screening, representatives of ed Know Your great company, and great conversation, and Policy Director
best big hair and shoulder each organization held a panel discussion Rights trainings, Eli Baumwell and
pads and cut footloose for about reproductive rights and addressed bigot- Board Member and
a joint ‘Starry Nights and Amendment 1. ry, implicit bias, Chapter President
Human Rights’ prom. privilege and racial justice, talked about #MeToo and rape Rosemary Ketchum
Our prom court was culture, taught constituents how to effectively advocate for even got to ride a
made up of honorees issues they care about in the legislative session, and even giant peacock float
from both organizations held a children’s civic engagement storytime and activity. down the river.
including Sue Barazi, We’re looking forward to another year of teaching and
Christine Campbell, Jackie learning with more West Virginia communities.
Lozano, and Mary Rich
05 06

niques in voter modelling to like the rest of the country, is divided on matters
identify which messages were surrounding abortion. While 73.7% of legislators
likely to resonate best with each voted to put Amendment 1 on the ballot, only 51.7% of
registered voter in the state. West Virginians supported the measure. Politicians in
this state have clearly been out of step with their
We built a comprehensive voter constituents.

outreach plan that focused on using
individual communications with our base Although fewer people cast votes on Amendment 1
voters and mass communications directed at than on the hotly-contested US Senate race, more
persuadable voters. During the campaign, we people cast votes against Amendment 1 than voted for
called nearly 200,000 unique voters across West Patrick Morrissey. We won counties all across the
Virginia. We ran television ads in three major state. We won in areas with more urban populations
West Virginia markets. We engaged nearly 150,000 and places with more rural populations. We got more
voters via mail. And we reached 40,000 voters votes than Joe Manchin in a number of counties that
through digital advertising. he won, including Monongalia County and Jefferson
County. And we won counties that Manchin lost,
We were committed to engaging voters from every including Pocahontas County and Calhoun County.
Electoral Fight transitioned from a legislative fight to an electoral
background. To do that we had to build as broad a
coalition as possible. Our historic coalition included We outperformed expectations everywhere we had the
During the 2018 legislative session, more than over 30 grassroots organizations with deep roots in resources to speak to voters one-on-one. For example,
two-thirds of each chamber voted to strip all protec- There had never been a major referendum fight over state, as well as faith leaders and medical providers although Wood County is viewed as being one of the
tions for abortion rights from our state constitution. such a contested issue like this in West Virginia from across West Virginia. most socially conservative parts of the state, we
As a result, a referendum, called Amendment 1, was history. As such, our state had no infrastructure in refused to ignore the voters there. We had an organiz-
placed on the November 2018 ballot that read: nothing place or experience with how to run a statewide ballot During the campaign, we learned that there was er in Wood County and a handful of dedicated volun-
in the Constitution of West Virginia secures or campaign like this. So, we had to build that infra- significant voter confusion about Amendment 1. In an teers who put in the work of having the tough conver-
protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of structure from the ground up and learn as much as we effort to educate voters, we executed an extensive sations that are necessary to change hearts and minds
abortion. If a majority of voters supported Amend- could from other jurisdictions with more experience in earned media plan. We placed 22 op-eds in newspa- about abortion rights. In the end, we only fell a total
ment 1, the state constitution would no longer offer these struggles. pers around the state, met with four editorial boards, of 52 votes short in Wood County.
protection for abortion rights. and presented our side to dozens of print, television
Our coalition formed a new 501(c)(4) organiza- and radio news outlets around the state. The lesson here is that we cannot let our preconceived
Amendment 1 was the single most extreme attack on tion—Vote No on Amendment One, Inc. and started notions prevent us from engaging in meaningful
women’s rights in West Virginia history. And for the raising the funds necessary to run a full statewide Virtually no so-called “experts” gave us any chance of dialogue with people everywhere. We need to continue
first time in the 146 year history of our state’s consti- campaign the likes of which West Virginia had never winning when we started the campaign. That did not
tution, we faced the prospect of stripping people of seen before. We hired a campaign manager and deter our coalition in the slightest. We only redoubled
their existing constitutional rights. campaign staff. We used polling data and our effort, in every corner of the state, speaking to as
focus groups to hone our messag- many voters as we possibly could.
As a result, as soon as it became clear that Amend- ing. And we
ment 1 was going to be on the ballot, ACLU-WV made used the latest In the end, it was a tantalizingly close race, but we
a decision that defeating it would have to be our top tech- lost by 3.5% (48.27% - 51.73%). It was a devastating
priority. Along with our partners, Planned Parenthood loss for women in West Virginia. The state immedi-
South Atlantic, WV FREE, and the Women’s ately denied the ability of Medicaid to continue paying
Health Center of WV, we immedi- for low-income women insured through the program to
ately have an abortion. And while abortion remains legal in
West Virginia, the future consequences of Amendment
1 could be incredibly dire. We now must rely on
Justice Kavanaugh and the rest of the US Supreme
Court to protect Roe v. Wade and prevent the crimi-
nalization of abortion in West Virginia.

Nonetheless, the election showed legislators how

incredibly wrong they have read the state and its
support for abortion rights. For years, West Virginia
lawmakers assumed that the state overwhelmingly
opposed abortion rights. Now we have undeniable
evidence that that assumption was wrong.

No matter how you examine the results, West Virginia,

09 08
Electioneering Lawsuit
having these tough conversations. And we cannot be On November 5, 2018, ACLU-WV filed a lawsuit
afraid to have them in the most unlikely of places. In against Secretary of State Mac Warner on behalf of
the long run, that is the only way we are going to the Vote No Coalition and two coalition volunteers.
change the political dynamics in West Virginia
surrounding reproductive rights. At issue in the lawsuit, which was filed in federal
district court in Charleston, is a West Virginia statute
Our opponents, the “Vote Yes” campaign, were fully that restricts electioneering during early voting by
embraced by the state Republican Party. Indeed, their prohibiting it “on the property of the county court-
campaign was largely driven by the Republican Party
By Tia Rumbaugh
house, any annex facilities, or any other designated
machinery. The WV GOP held rallies, provided the early voting locations within the county.”
chief spokespeople, and engaged in mass communica-
tions for our opposition. On the other hand, our Plaintiffs Katy Lewis and Stacy North were volunteer-
campaign got virtually no institutional support from ing for the Vote No Coalition at the Mountaineer Mall My name is Tia "Fix" Rumbaugh and I've survived 3 constituents crammed into his office, unlike Capito
the Democratic Party itself. However, wherever indi- in Morgantown on November 3, 2018, the last day of rapes and multiple sexual assaults in my 40yrs on this who would not make time to meet with us and instead
vidual Democratic politicians spoke out in opposition early voting before the November 6, 2018 election. Ms. planet. sent her staff to take notes. Senator Manchin gave us
to Amendment 1, we did better than would be expect- Lewis and Ms. North were distributing information one hour to hear our stories, and because there were
ed. about Amendment One and speaking with voters in a In October 2018, I travelled with 46 women and men so many, he scheduled another thirty minutes to come
parking area approximately 100 feet from the from West Virginia to meet with Senators Manchin back and hear more. At our meeting, I asked Manchin
For example, we won Greenbrier County. Part of that entrance to the mall, which was serving as a voting and Capito to share our stories of survival and ask if it was political suicide to vote "no" on Kavanaugh,
victory must be attributed to Senator Stephen Bald- location. Secretary of State Warner approached them them to vote "No" on Kavanaugh. After weeks of and he thought not.
win’s frank, commonsense explanation to his constitu- and told them that West Virginia law prevented them increasing anxiety, panic, and emotional breakdowns
ents as to why he opposed Amendment 1. Likewise, from electioneering anywhere on the property--includ- over media portrayal, testimony, and public comments I came to Washington because the Kavanaugh hear-
we won Wetzel County, where Delegate Dave Pethtel is ing anywhere in the mall’s vast parking lot. Ms. Lewis on the hearings, I came forward as a survivor on ings were the definition of disrespect and partisanship
an outspoken supporter of reproductive rights. Both and Ms. North ultimately left and were deprived of social media in an attempt to regain control over the behavior that no adult should find admirable or esteem
of these candidates won reelection, and it is clear that the opportunity at the polling location to meaningfully narrative of my life. Shortly thereafter, I saw 19 worthy. I thought his behavior in the hearings alone
they influenced their constituents to vote against engage with voters about Amendment One. women hold a sit-in and face arrest at Senator Man- would be enough to rally the general public's outcry
Amendment 1. chin's campaign office in Charleston and I knew I against his nomination, but instead the accusations
The statute Secretary of State Warner relied on wasn't alone. and shaming towards Ford crippled me into reliving
In the end, these election results show that abortion is directly conflicts with another West Virginia election- my own traumas over and over again. Everytime
not the winning wedge issue Republicans in WV eering statute that allows for individuals to partici- The protestors' struggle inspired and mobilized me to someone would accuse Ford of lying, I felt accused.
believed it to be. And it is not an issue that Demo- pate in electioneering activity during the early voting join the ACLU's meetings in Washington D.C.. I was Everytime someone would dismiss Kavanaugh's actions
crats should be afraid of or feel the need to run away period so long as it is not within 100 feet of the ready to take a stand against Kavanaugh whose behav- as youthful boyhood, I would sob at the insensitivity.
from. The good news is that leaders of both parties outside entrance of the polling place. The area of 100 ior in the televised hearing and attitude towards his
seemed to have learned this lesson. After the election, feet around the entrance to the polling place is known accuser polarized our nation and triggered new fresh Many months have passed, and despite our failure to
we heard over and over again that many Republican as a “buffer zone.” Ms. Lewis and Ms. North were trauma in the millions of sexual assault survivors, like thwart Kavanaugh’s confirmation I recognize the
leaders were blaming Amendment 1 for legislative more than 100 feet away from the entrance to the myself, who were watching. catharsis of the journey. Sharing my story helped lift
electoral defeats in some parts of the state. Maybe not polling place—outside of the buffer zone— when Secre- others up to do the same. Sharing my story contribut-
coincidentally, the 2019 legislative session was the first tary of State Warner approached them. The cathartic journey to D.C., the camaraderie of ed to my personal healing, the healing of others, and
time in years that no anti-abortion bills passed the survivors, the thoughtful and sensitive organization of the healing of our society as we come together to
West Virginia legislature. Electioneering in an area outside of a polling place is the ACLU staff, and Senator Manchin himself deserve recognize that sexual assault and violence towards
classic, pure political speech. So a statute that creates my endless thanks. Senator Manchin was engaged, each other is no longer tolerated. I am not alone. You
It is also clear that we need to continue the conversa- a buffer zone would violate the First Amendment considerate, and sympathetic as he sat with 30+ are not alone. Together, we will make a positive differ-
tion about abortion rights in West Virginia. Our unless it is “sufficiently tailored” to a “compelling ence in our nation.
coalition just expended a significant amount of resourc- public interest.”
es talking to voters about this issue over the past year.
We have gathered invaluable data and built an army of In a recent Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision,
volunteers statewide. Rather than merely fighting Russell v. Lundergan-Grimes, et al., a court found that
whatever ridiculous anti-abortion bills are introduced a 300-foot “no political speech” buffer zone violated
at the legislature each year in a piecemeal fashion, we the First Amendment because it impermissibly
need to develop a long-term plan to change the narra- restricted free speech rights. The statute that the
tive regarding abortion rights in West Virginia. The Secretary of State relied on in Morgantown prohibits
Amendment 1 campaign has started this long overdue political speech anywhere on any early voting polling
conversation in our state. Now, we must carry it property. That could—and did in this situation—create
forward. a buffer zone that is well more than 300 feet. The
Plaintiffs are requesting that the statute be declared
unconstitutional and that it may no longer be
09 10

the event. Although the administration assured the that students are referred to by the appropriate

Critchfields that some kind of investigation would take pronoun and treated in accordance with their correct

place, they did not hear anything from the school for gender. Additionally, it was agreed that Mr. Livengood
weeks. would not be in a setting where he could interact with
Michael and he would write an apology to Michael for
his conduct in November. Mr. Livengood was suspend-
ACLU-WV Gets Involved ed by the Harrison County Board of Education without
pay through the end of January 2018.

On December 17, 2018, approximately three weeks

after the incident, ACLU-WV Legal Director Loree
Stark on Michael’s behalf sent to Harrison County
Schools Superintendent Mark Manchin a letter outlin- Promotion of Best Practice
ing the issues—specifically, that Mr. Livengood’s
conduct was in violation of the U.S. Constitution, Policies and the ‘Apology’
federal civil rights statutes, West Virginia state law,
and the Harrison County School District’s own stated Letter
policies. Further, ACLU-WV requested a meeting with ACLU-WV sought to work in good faith with the
the administration to discuss the incident and administration of Harrison County Schools to put in
proposed that the school district work with ACLU-WV place policies that would support Michael and other
The ACLU-WV received a call from a troubled mother no way for Michael to exit without a physical confron- and leading LGBTQ+ organizations to implement students like him. However, after several weeks of
in late November 2018. Caroline Critchfield contacted tation with Mr. Livengood. trans-inclusive policies to help make Harrison County emails, it became clear to ACLU-WV that the adminis
ACLU-WV after her son, Michael, a transgender Schools a safer environment for students like Michael.
15-year-old boy, had been harassed by an assistant Mr. Livengood continued to press Michael, his
principal while using the boys’ restroom at voice escalating, asking Michael what Michael’s story quickly became
Liberty High School in Harrison County. would happen if another boy thought national news, making head-
Michael was checking him out. Michael’s lines in publications including
classmates later told him that they could The Washington Post, Out
The Incident hear Mr. Livengood yelling from outside
the restroom in the hallway and cafeteria.
magazine, and the Huffington
Post. Meanwhile, people in
The details were disturbing: On November 27, West Virginia and across the
2018, Michael went to use the boys’ restroom. At this point, Mr. Livengood allowed country rallied to support
Although it was not necessary, he checked first Michael to leave the restroom and an adult Michael on social media and
to make sure no one else was in the parent of another member of the band, who by contacting the school board
restroom in order to avoid any potential had been told that something was to share their concerns about
conflict. Finding no one in there, he happening by Michael’s classmates, what happened. An event was
went into a stall. was waiting outside the door to the planned for mid-January at
restroom. Stressed and angry, West Virginia University to
Shortly after, an assistant princi- Michael began crying uncontrol- support Michael and to cele-
pal, Lee Livengood, came into the lably. brate his 16th birthday.
restroom and began questioning
Michael as to why he was using Before Michael left to return to
the restroom. Michael told him
that he was a boy and that is
the bandroom with the adult,
Mr. Livengood said to Michael, The Meeting
why he was using the boys’ “I’m not going to lie, you Superintendent for Harrison
room. Mr. Livengood challenged freak me out.” County Schools Mark Man-
Michael, telling him that if he chin agreed to meet with
were really a boy he “could come Michael and adults aware of the ACLU-WV, a representative
out here and use the urinal.” situation that evening informed from Fairness West Virginia, and Caroline and Jon tration would not adopt policies that were in the best
Michael, stressed by the situa- his mother, Caroline, about what Critchfield on January 11, 2019. interest of trans children. In particular, the adminis-
tion, told Mr. Livengood that he happened. tration required that a parent or guardian get involved
was assigned as a female at ACLU-WV, Fairness West Virginia, and the Critch- as soon as any student identified themselves to the
birth, but that he identifies as Caroline and her husband, Jon fields left the meeting believing some agreements had school as trans and asked to be referred to by their
male. When Michael left the Critchfield, spoke with members of been reached and that Harrison County Schools would chosen name and pronouns. ACLU-WV pointed out
stall, he found Mr. Livengood the administration at Liberty High work in good faith with ACLU-WV to adopt best-prac- that a parental notification requirement would essen-
blocking the doorway to the School as well as an assistant super- tice trans-inclusive policies that would benefit students tially “out” students to parents and guardians who
exit of the restroom. There was intendent within 24 hours following like Michael. These policies would include ensuring may not already have been aware and who may not be
supportive. The administration did not budge.
11 12

Finally, on January 31, 2019, the day before Mr. Livengood would return to school,
the assistant principal’s “apology” letter was sent by the administration to the
ACLU-WV as Michael’s representative. The letter, in its entirety, stated: “I’m deeply
sorry for raising my voice while in the bathroom on 11/27/18. I promise it won’t
happen again.”

It was clear that the administration and Livengood were not taking accountability for
the incident and that they were not committed to adopting and implementing inclu-
sive policies that would truly ensure a supportive environment for trans students.

A New Rallying Cry

On February 1, ACLU-WV, on behalf of Michael, sent a letter directly to the president
of the Harrison County Board of Education in an effort to point out that Livengood’s
“apology” was woefully deficient and to see if some resolution could still be reached.
Unfortunately, more than a month later, there had been no response. ronment in schools for trans students.
In early March, ACLU-WV and the Critchfield family once again teamed up to make a call for Harrison County More than 1100 people signed the petition and approximately 50 individuals attended the March 19 meeting.
Schools to take accountability for what happened to Michael and to request that they come back to the table to Several community members spoke at the meeting and the petition was presented to the Board. At the conclu-
consider policies that were truly trans-inclusive and would protect students. sion of the meeting, the Board of Education voted not to renew Mr. Livengood’s contract for the following year.
At the same time as hundreds of people were signing on to an online petition to support Despite this encouraging result, the work is not yet done. Now that the Board of Education has demonstrated a
Michael and to call for Harrison County Schools to take appropriate action, ACLU-WV willingness to take action to protect students like Michael, ACLU-WV expects Harrison County Schools to come
Community Outreach Coordinator Mollie Kennedy worked behind the scenes to coordinate a back to the table to discuss implementing fair and reasonable policies that will create a safe and supportive
group of concerned West Virginians who would attend a March 19 board meeting to make environment for LGBTQ+ students. At the time of this article went to press, ACLU-WV has been taking steps to
their concerns known to the board and to speak to the importance of ensuring a safe envi- make that happen.
13 14

The American Civil Liberties Union of West Virginia wrapped up a successful 2019 Legislative Session. None of
the major legislation the ACLU-WV opposed passed in its original form, and a number of ACLU-supported bills
passed. In addition to the All Kinds Are Welcome Here Lobby Day, the ACLU participated in four other events
at the Capitol, and issued a dozen action alerts. However, the success was marred by open bigotry in the Capitol
that went largely unaddressed by the legislature’s leadership. While we should celebrate the many successes of

the session, the real excitement may be in opening the window for even greater civil liberties protections in
upcoming legislative sessions.

Bills Followed Criminal Justice Reforms

Entering the session, we were informed that re-entry
SNAP Benefits for People with Felony
Drug Convictions - HB 2459
was going to be top legislative priorities. Coupled with Entering the 2019 session, West Virginia was one of

that, the ACLU-WV also focused on pushing proactive only three states that had a lifetime ban on Supple-
measures that would reform the West Virginia bail mental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits

Actively Lobbied Bills

system and the practice of civil asset forfeiture. Sev- for people convicted of a drug felony. House bill 2459
eral high profile criminal justice reform bills were was introduced and run early to eliminate that ban.
taken up early in the session. After passing through the House, the Senate amended
to maintain the lifetime ban for drug felons whose
felony also include an abuse of SNAP benefits, or
Bail Reform - HB 2190 resulted in serious bodily injury or death. The House
accepted the amendment and the bill was signed into
HB 2190 was designed to default non-violent, non-drug law.
misdemeanors to release on personal recognizance.
An amendment in the House gave prosecutors a

chance to appeal release. In the Senate, an alterna-

of the Bills we lobbied for

tive version created a presumption of release absent
specific findings of a risk to public safety, and recom-

got on an agenda
mended alternatives to detention. The Senate Judicia-
or ry Committee passed that version of the bill, but
recalled it a day later following intense pressure from
prosecutors. The bill was never taken back up.

Civil Asset Forfeiture

Under current law, police can seize property and
assume permanent possession of it without convicting,
or even charging, the owner with a crime - a practice
known as civil asset forfeiture. The ACLU, along with Criminal Expungement - SB 152
West Virginia Americans for Prosperity, and represen- Senate Bill 152 was also taken up early in the legisla-
tatives from law enforcement and prosecutors attended tive session. As it left the Senate, the bill expanded the
a stakeholder meeting to discuss appropriate legisla- number of offenses that were eligible for expungement,
tive language. Unfortunately, law enforcement was and refined the process for applying for expungement.
unwilling to compromise. Amid threats that reforms The final bill created an integrated system of rehabili-
would undermine their ability to enforce the law, tation, job training, and job placement, and drug
legislators decided they did not have the political will testing - the eponymous “Jim’s Dream”. In addition to
to take up the issue. the expanded list of offenses for which a person could
qualify for expungement, participation in “Jim's
15 16

pass. protection is always one the ACLU-WV takes seriously.

This is an impressive slate of criminal reentry bills Cameras in Special Education
that will dramatically cut back on the collateral conse-
quences for people that have had contact with the Classrooms - SB 632 LGBTQ Equality - SB 391
criminal system. However, we have significant work to Senate Bill 632 set aside funds to improve school In the aftermath of the displays of homophobia, House
do in terms of reducing contact in the first place. security, but more alarming, put cameras in special Democrats repeatedly tried to force consideration of
education classrooms. The bill’s goal, ensuring a safe statewide non-discrimination bills, and to amend
learning environment special needs students is laud- non-discrimination provisions into other legislation.
Schooled on Education able. However, the bill raised concerns for the
ACLU-WV. Students with disabilities are already
These attempts were all unsuccessful. The Senate,
however, appeared amenable to actually passing
Senate Bill 451, the Omnibus Education Bill, prompted unfairly targeted for discipline and subjecting them to LGBTQ equality legislation. Working with Opportuni-
a second teacher and school service personnel strike in additional surveillance risks making this disparity ty WV, and Fairness WV, the ACLU launched a lobby-
as many years, and proved to be one of the most worse. Adding security cameras may also create the ing and public campaign to encourage an
divisive bills of the 2019 session. Although credit for sense that special needs students should be segregated LGBTQ-equality bill, Senate Bill 391, to be taken up.
ultimately defeating Senate Bill 451 rests with the from their peers, when segregation should actually be Despite promises from Senate leadership, the bill was
teachers, school service personnel, and parents, the discouraged. Finally, students or their guardians may never considered. Ultimately, there was no meaningful
Dream” allowed for expedited expungement. With not want to be recorded and ought to be given privacy
those changes in place, the House passed the bills and ACLU-WV played a role in fighting against that legisla- gesture to address the hateful rhetoric or to demon-
tion as well. Additionally, we were involved in several protections. To address these concerns, Senate added strate a that a commitment to LGBTQ equality was
the Senate concurred. protections, ensuring that video can only be used to
other bills relating to education. more than lip service. This failure left an atmosphere
look for incidents of abuse or harassment. Between the of bitterness and resentment through the 2019 session.
Senate and House other amendments required the
Expungement and Work Opportunities - cameras to be in all special education classrooms, but
HB 2486 The Omnibus Education Bill - SBl 451 only if funding is provided. Although reservations
remain, the version of the bill that passed is much
The West Virginia Refugee
Rumors that key legislators wanted to create educa-
House Bill 2486 was designed to compliment the
tional “choice” through charter schools or education better than the original. Absorptive Capacity Act - HB 2664
expungement bill, Senate Bill 152, by expanding work
opportunities for people with criminal convictions. savings accounts (ESA’s) had been circulating long During the 2018 legislative session, the ACLU-WV,
The bill changes the law regarding occupational licen- before the 2019 session began. To this end, the Senate along with a group of faith leaders, nicknamed the G-d
sure, requiring a reasonable nexus between the crime
and the occupation if a license is going to be denied
Education committee originated a massive 170-page
education overhaul that cobbled together topics from All Kinds Are Welcome Here Squad, fought back against anti-refugee and anti-immi-
grant legislation. There were rumors that similar
or revoked. Compared to other bills, House Bill teacher pay-raises, to school security, to mental health, Incidents of homophobia and Islamophobia dominated legislation would run during the 2019 session, in
2486 faced a relatively smooth path, passing attendance policies, and, of course, choice. Despite its headlines from the 2019 Session. Beneath the head- addition to legislation that would require municipalities
through both the House and Senate Judiciary com- size, the bill was passed from Committee the same day lines, LGBTQ and immigrants’ rights were at issue in to cooperate with immigration enforcement. True
mittees and getting broad bipartisan support on the it was introduced. When it became apparent the bill legislative battles. While no legislation was passed on enough, House Bill 2664, was taken up in the House
votes in each chamber respectively. Unfortunately, would be defeated in the Senate Finance Committee, it either of these important issues, the fight for equal Committee on Homeland Security and Veteran Affairs.
after passing through the legislature, the Governor was instead sent to the entire body, a “Committee of The bill would have required invasive tracking of
vetoed the bill. the Whole,” a procedure that had only ever been used refugees and given the Governor and local govern-
twice in the history of West Virginia. The Committee ments the ability to refuse refugees from entering the
of the Whole met over a single day, before the bill state or localities. Fortunately, several members of the
Additional Re-Entry Bills passed out of the Senate. committee were absent, and a motion to adjourn
passed without the Committee passing the legislation.
House Bill 2083 and Senate Bill 236 also were When the Bill moved to the House, the Education It was never taken up again.
designed for easing reentry. House Bill 2083 required Committee dramatically improved the bill, removing
the Division of Corrections and Rehabilitation work everything but pay raises. However, the House passed
with the Department of Motor Vehicles to provide an amendment requiring every school to hire school
photo ID to people leaving the criminal system.
Senate Bill 236, required that the Division of Correc-
resource officers, an amendment the ACLU-WV
adamantly and vocally opposed. The final House
Other Bills
tions and Rehabilitation work with the Secretary of version of SB 451 had no ESA’s or charter schools,
State to ensure that people finishing their sentence, but did require resource officers in every school. Medical Cannabis - HB 2538 &
parole, or probation are made aware of their right to When the House version of SB 451 was returned to HB 2079
vote, and given the paperwork to register. Both bills the Senate, the Senate amended it again, effectively Medical cannabis saw legislative
passed out of their chamber of origin. However, returning it to the Senate version. Despite assuranc- breakthroughs with the passage of a
Senate Bill 236 was never taken up by the House es that the House had the votes to pass this, pressure bill that creates a finance mecha-
Judiciary committee. House Bill 2083, did pass the from teachers and the public got to House members nism essential to creating a medical
Senate, with minor amendments. The House created and the bill was postponed indefinitely, effectively cannabis industry (House Bill 2538).
some tension by refusing to concur until late the final ending the debate for the session. The Legislature also passed a bill that
night of the session, although the bill ultimately did would have allowed vertical integration
17 18

between growers, producers, and distributers resolutions to call an Article V Convention of the
(House Bill 2079). While far from perfect, that bill States (HCR 33 and HCR 61). The latter was
would have been another crucial step in making medi- ultimately defeated with a late-night filibuster on the
cal cannabis a reality. Unfortunately, it was vetoed by final night of the session by Senator Mike Romano.

the Governor.
All told, the 2019 Legislative Session was highly
successful. The absence of anti-abortion, or
Reproductive Rights - SB 564 & HB 2583 anti-LGBTQ legislation made it easier for the
The ACLU-WV supported and passed bills that expand ACLU-WV to work on getting positive bills advanced.
Medicaid coverage for pregnant women (Senate Bill The door is clearly open for further criminal justice
564), and that allowed for over-the-counter contracep- reforms. And there is growing momentum to provide
tion (House Bill 2583). mental health services both in schools and for those
impacted by the criminal system. Between debates
about education reform, and displays of bigotry,
Protecting and Expanding Democracy - resentment and distrust ran high through the 2019
Legislators were notified before floor votes of the ACLU’s position. At the end of the session,
SB 266, SB 366, & HB 2008 legislative session. But the fractures that formed in
legislators were given a raw score based on how they voted. Those scores were then put into
this atmosphere are creating an environment where
SB 266 proposed an intermediate court, but specifical- legislators must choose whether they will stand on the a standard distribution and letter grades assigned.
ly excluded criminal appeals from having an extra side of exclusion and bigotry, or whether they will
layer of due process. In truth, SB 266 was designed stand on the side of inclusion and civil liberties or all.
only to help wealthy litigants win “wars of attrition”.
So the ACLU-WV worked to successfully oppose that
legislation. We also stopped a bill that would have
allowed people to purchase key cards to the Capitol





(Senate Bill 366), giving the wealthiest among us even
easier access to our lawmakers. A bill that would have SENATE
allowed for run-off judicial elections (House Bill 2008)
was supported by the ACLU-WV but did not pass. MEMBERS 55% C 66% B 77% A- 55% C 42% F 55% C

Article V Conventions - HCR 33 and







HCR 61
The ACLU-WV argued in public hearing, in subcom-
mittee meetings, and with individual lawmakers
against two separate 55% C 55% C 55% C 77% A- 66% B 66% B 66% B 66% B







66% B 66% B 50% D 55% C 66% B 66% B 66% B 55% C







66% B 55% C 50% D 77% A- 55% C 55% C 55% C 44% F




55% C 66% B 55% C 66% B

83% B
100% A

83% B
83% B

100% A
83% B
83% B
83% B
50% D
83% B

33% F
100% A

66% C

100% A
66% C
83% B

100% A
80% B
100% A

100% A

60% C

100% A
100% A
66% C

66% C
100% A
66% C
83% B

100% A
83% B


100% A

100% A
83% B
100% A
80% B
100% A

100% A
100% A
66% C

100% A

66% C
83% B

100% A
83% B

100% A
100% A

100% A
83% B
83% B

83% B

83% B

83% B
83% B
100% A

100% A
100% A
83% B

100% A
100% A
100% A

83% B

83% B

100% A
83% B
83% B

83% B

100% A
100% A
100% A
100% A


100% A
83% B

100% A

66% C
66% C

83% B
33% F

100% A
100% A

100% A


100% A

66% C
100% A

80% B
50% D
66% C

100% A
83% B
100% A
100% A


100% A

100% A
100% A

83% B
100% A
83% B

100% A

100% A
66% C
100% A

21 22

High emotion and passionate disagreement are part of group identified as an anti-Muslim hate group by the
every legislative session in West Virginia. Tempers Southern Poverty Law Center. Predictably, this hate

flare. Intemperate words are used in the heat of group posted virulently Islamophobic literature and
debate. This is all part of a functioning democracy posters.
where our elected leaders are making decisions that
can have a huge impact on real people’s lives. The bigots who infected our Capitol this legislative
session brought shame upon our state. The ACLU of
But something quite different infected our Capitol this West Virginia is a fiercely nonpartisan organization.
year. Something much darker and more dangerous. But we cannot let that prevent us from speaking the

Open and unrepentant bigotry found a home under the truth. And the truth is that the GOP protected Dele-
dome this legislative session. gate Porterfield from condemnation and chose to
literally give a platform for Islamophobes to spew their
Two particularly ugly incidents marred the entire hatred.
session. First, a freshman delegate from Mercer
County, Eric Porterfield, embarrassed himself and our The ACLU of West Virginia is a free speech organiza-
entire state with outrageous statements of hatred tion. Our track record is clear: we will defend speech

directed at the LGBTQ community. First during a that we find absolutely abhorrent from undue govern-
committee meeting, while Delegate Porterfield argued ment interference. However, in the case
in favor of an amendment to a bill that would of the bigots in the
overturn all of the local LGBTQ Capitol this past
nondiscrimina- legislative session,
tion ordinances the hateful speech
in the state, he was not under

quoted a attack from the
right-wing provo- government. If
cateur and used anything, the
an anti-gay slur. actions of those in
In subsequent power---repeatedly
media interviews, voting against
Delegate Porter- LGBTQ nondis-

field compared the crimination,
LGBTQ community pushing anti-refu-
to the Ku Klux gee legislation,
Klan and even and providing a
implied that he forum for the
would drown his Islamo-
children if he learned phobes---seemed to

that they were gay. actually condone the bigots.
Delegate Porterfield
showed us that he is a bigot. Sometimes, the reflexive response of defenders of the
First Amendment is to immediately defend bigoted
Republican leadership in the House refused to take any speech as being protected. However, where, as here,
action against Delegate Porterfield. They didn’t the bigoted speech is not under any threat of govern-
remove him from any committee assignments. They ment censorship, the automatic and immediate defense

didn’t censure him. Nothing. Moreover, the Republi- of the speech seems, at best, tone deaf and, at worst, a
can caucus repeatedly followed Delegate Porterfield’s tool of white supremacy. As a free speech organiza-
lead and voted in lockstep preventing LGBTQ nondis- tion that also works to extend the promise of the First
crimination legislation from coming to a vote. Leader- Amendment and the rest of the bill of rights to those
ship’s refusal to challenge Delegate Porterfield’s bigot- groups that have traditionally been denied its protec-
ry led to a passionate response from the Democrats. tions, we believed the appropriate response to the
There was a heightened, almost palpable, tension for bigots’ speech was to unreservedly condemn that
the remainder of the legislative session. speech. It was not under threat from government
A few weeks later, in the midst of this tension, bigotry interference. But unchallenged, it constitutes a threat
once again dominated news from the Capitol. The itself.
state GOP, which set up exhibits in the rotunda
outside of the House chamber, gave tablespace to a
23 24
How the ACLU of WV is working
to Holistically estimated that as of 2013, pretrial detainees outnum-
bered convicted people locked up in West Virginia jails
mistakes. If we
expect people

Reform Criminal Justice

and prisons. These are people who are held because to fully inte-
they are either denied bail, or are unable to meet bail grate back into
– they have not been convicted of a crime. At a the workforce
fundamental level, this turns the principle of “innocent and become
It is no secret that West Virginia has a mass incarcer- reform policing behavior. until proven guilty” on its head. productive
ation problem. Our jails and prisons are over capacity, members of
understaffed and in deteriorating condition. To truly It is imperative we not only educate and provide Those who cannot afford bail must remain in jail while society, we
solve this problem, West Virginia cannot focus its resources to high risk populations on their rights but they often wait months for a case to go to trial. cannot contin-
political will at only one solution. Instead, a holistic also introduce police sensitivity and de-escalation During this time, they have not been found guilty of ually penalize
approach is needed to fix our broken criminal justice training to ensure law enforcement is working for and any crime. In that time they are likely to lose their them. More
system to ensure initial contact does not automatically not against us. Doing so better ensures an individual’s job. They may lose housing or fall behind on car proactive
result in incarceration and when a person is jailed, first handshake with the system does not result in payments. They are likely to face major family disrup- reforms are
they are given the necessary resources upon reentry to incarceration. tions. For this reason, many people give up their needed to
reduce recidivism. constitutional right to a trial by jury, and instead ensure their
Similarly, West Virginia must acknowledge its own make plea deals, even to crimes they did not commit, success and the success of
In the face of the addiction epidemic and with increas- policy failures and work to correct the mistakes of the just to return to their lives, unaware of how a guilty our state.
ing numbers of criminal offenses leading to more past. The war on drugs has been a complete failure. plea can follow them for years. Even people who can
people being jailed, West Virginia cannot afford to Drug use has not declined, while millions of make bail often incur financial hardships to meet the
continue with business as usual. And it is a business.
Whether it is the cash bail system or the overall
people–disproportionately poor people and people of
color—have been caged and then branded with criminal
up-front money requirements or have to get involved
with the predatory bail-bond industry. Mass Incarceration At A
prison industrial complex, our criminal justice system
has created for-profit industries that have a vested
records. In a state with very high rates of substance
abuse disorder, West Virginia cannot continue punish- Reforming the cash bail system would be a boon for Glance
interest in maintaining the status quo. In order to ing criminal drug offenses at the same rate. To solve the state. It would lower jail bills and make safer West Virginia Jail and Prison Population at a glance.
disrupt this cycle of mass incarceration, we must the drug epidemic, we must turn our attention to conditions for inmates and officers alike. It would In June 2017 there was an average of 4,929 people in
deconstruct the financial incentives currently at play evidenced-based practices by creating social structures create a more just justice system – one that isn’t regional jails in West Virginia on any given day.
that are perpetuating the problem. That means creat- that prevent addiction and treat it as the mental health based on wealth. Nearly 1 in 4 people admitted to West Virginia prisons
ing a bail system that does not take advantage of low disorder that it is. That includes properly funded in 2014 was convicted of a drug offense.In 2017, 59
Creating A Path For
income individuals’ inability to pay, establishing more mental health providers in schools, rehabilitation percent of people in West Virginia prisons had less
rational responses to crime that are based in rehabili- options, needle-exchange and other harm reduction than a high school education.
tation, and providing tools for people reentering programs, and de-stigmatization campaigns. All of
society and leaving the system to reduce the likelihood these solutions, along with decriminalization of canna- The imprisonment rate of Black adults in West Virgin-
that they reoffend. bis, will inevitably lead to lower incarceration rates ia was nearly four times that of white adults in 2017.
and a more just society. Once you’ve served your time, you shouldn’t be expect-
ed to re-enter society with both hands tied behind your Roughly 1 in every 5 people in West Virginia prisons
Ultimately, West Virginia cannot end mass incarcera- in 2017 were over the age of 50. The number of women
back. We want to create opportunities and support for
Pre-Trial Detention Reforms
tion without recognizing and examining the social and in West Virginia prisons grew by 22 percent between
institutional failures that bring people to the justice people who are reentering society after incarceration
to significantly decrease the chance they will reoffend. 2007 and 2017.
system in the first place. To do this, the ACLU of
West Virginia is working to reform the current crimi- With West Virginia jails bursting at the seams, our
state can no longer support a bail system where the This past legislative session, West Virginia saw some Of all people revoked to prison from probation in 2010,
nal justice system at each point of contact: at the 62 percent needed substance use treatment. At least
outset, limiting arrests in the first place; in the wealthy can pay their way out of jail while of its most significant reforms enacted around creating
everyday West Virgin- a reintegration pathway for people exiting the criminal 22 percent of people admitted to West Virginia prisons
middle, by reforming pre-trial and post-conviction in 2011 who were examined were identified as in need
detention; and at the back end by creating a path for ians are forced to justice system. In total, five critical bills passed
give up their making way for significant opportunities for formerly of mental health treatment. It is estimated that 85 to
reintegration. 90 percent of incarcerations in West Virginia can be
freedom and incarcerated individuals. These advancements generate
family because the conditions for successful reentry by removing attributed to drug or alcohol use.
Preventing Contact they’re too
pay. The
poor to
potential stumbling blocks that may lead to someone
reoffending. This type of forward thinking is impera- Between 1980 and 2016, West Virginia’s prison popula-
We want to prevent a first contact with the justice Policy tive to ending the cycle of recidivism and ultimately, tion increased nearly six-fold (470 percent increase).-
system by decreasing police intervention in our lives. Initiative reducing mass incarceration. Policymakers should be General fund spending on corrections increased by 307
This includes efforts to end the war on drugs and applauded for their efforts but also recognize these percent between 1986 and 2017. In 2017, West Virginia
reforms alone will not be enough to end mass incarcer- spent $191 million of its general fund on corrections.

Even after release, people with criminal convictions

move through life shackled and chained to their
25 26

21 Years of Defending staff at the hospital was white, but the vast majority of
the patients were Black. And they were all poor.
office, the one that has stuck with her the most is,
sadly, one where justice was not achieved. It was a

Civil Liberties
Monica could see inequality and racism up close in the case where the police had followed three young college
county emergency room. She also saw firsthand how students around town, eventually pulling them over
these evils could combine with the state power---this and holding them at gunpoint. None of the students
was the hospital police took injured people who were had any drugs or other contraband. These were good
accused of crimes. The structures of white supremacy students, coming home from the barber. And, oh yeah,
and classism were impossible for Monica to miss they were Black. The inability of these young men to

A Fond Farewell to Monica Neal

working at the hospital. obtain justice through the legal system for the obvious
racial profiling they had endured reinforced for Monica
When Monica was 21 years old, she gave birth to her the same lessons she had been learning throughout her
first daughter. Shortly thereafter her small family life about inequity in our society.
moved a number of times following jobs---first to
On September 15, 1963, Ku Klux Klan members Monica’s story starts in segregated, Jim Crow Lexington, KY, then to Nashville, TN before returning As Monica readies to enjoy her retirement, all of us at
bombed the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birming- Alabama. Monica, who is white, grew up in a working to Birmingham. In 1983, Monica’s second daughter ACLU-WV hope she knows that we value her, we will
ham, Alabama, murdering 4 young Black girls---Addie class household in Birmingham. Her father was a was born. miss her and we thank her. We thank her for her
Mae Collins, Carol Denise McNair, Carole Robertson, steelworker who had been born in Alabama in 1910. patience. We thank her for her honesty. We thank
and Cynthia Wesley. This terrorist attack was a And while he fell into some of the trappings of his time In 1985, a job opportunity moved Monica and her two her for her kind heart. We thank her for her hard
turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. It and place, he definitely did not fit the stereotype of a daughters to Paintsville, Kentucky, which is in the work. We thank her for her toughness. And we thank
changed our country and it had an indelible impact on post-Confederacy white man in Birmingham. rural Eastern part of the state. Monica was shocked her for compassion.
millions of Americans who gained a greater insight to find that this small town in Appalachia was much
into the brutality of white supremacy. Monica grew up in an integrated environment. Her more racially segregated than anywhere she had been
family had plenty of Black friends. But in Jim Crow in Alabama. Monica saw essentially no interaction
A few blocks away from the terrorist attack, 10 year Birmingham, that meant that the visits were strictly between the white and Black population of Paintsville.
old Monica Neal (then Gribbon) was sitting in church outside. Black friends would not come into Monica’s The town was so racially divided that Black and white
when she heard the explosion. When she found out home because doing so could be dangerous for them residents had worked out a schedule when they would
what had happened, Monica was utterly horrified. She and Monica’s family. There were a number of each separately use the grocery store. When Monica
did not know any of the girls who had been killed, but well-known Klan members who lived on little Monica moved to town, she didn’t know about this arrange-
it was impossible not to put herself in their shoes. Neal’s street. ment and got some strange looks when she shopped at
the “wrong” time.
Monica Neal is a name you may not recognize. But Even as a child who had been socialized in the Deep
Monica has done as much to advance civil liberties in South, Monica was deeply disturbed by the society Eventually a job opportunity landed Monica in St.
West Virginia as anyone over the past quarter century. around her. While in high school, race riots tore her Albans, West Virginia. She and her daughters have
Monica has worked behind-the-scenes for the ACLU of school apart in the early days of integration. Accord- lived in St. Albans for the past 29 years. In 1998,
West Virginia as Office Manager, ensuring the smooth ing to Monica, “It was horrible to see how people were Monica saw an ad in the paper for a job opening with
running of our operations for the past 21 years. treated because of the color of their skin. It was the ACLU of West Virginia, and she got the job.
Monica has had a hand in every lawsuit, every legisla- terribly sad. And it was embarrassing, because people
tive fight, every know-your-rights training and every associated us with that because we were from Birming- Working on the cutting edge of civil liberties and civil
membership event the ACLU of West Virginia has had ham.” rights work for more than two decades is sure to
for decades. change someone. Monica believes her views on prison-
Perhaps Monica’s family was more accepting of others ers’ rights and reproductive rights have changed most
Monica is planning to retire at the end of this year. than was typical of the time because they had been dramatically since coming to work with ACLU-WV.
This well-deserved retirement is going to be a serious ostracized due to their Catholic faith. Neighborhood After reading thousands and thousands of requests for
blow to our organization. Monica has worked along- kids weren’t allowed to associate with them because of legal assistance, Monica has fully rejected the narra-
side six Executive Directors (and three Interim Execu- their religion. Sometimes kids threw rocks at Monica tive frequently presented in the popular media that
tive Directors). She has a deep institutional knowl- and her siblings when they were going home from prisons are “cushy” places to live. And after spending
edge of the ACLU of West Virginia that simply cannot school. Truancy officers would come by Monica’s home years at an organization that works on reproductive
be replicated. She will be missed by the organization every Catholic holiday threatening to take them to rights, Monica’s views on the subject have evolved
and all of us who have had the pleasure to work with juvenile detention centers for missing school. And of significantly from her time growing up in an observant
her. course, their Klan neighbors didn’t much like Catholics Catholic home in Alabama. She now believes that
either. regardless of what she personally may think about
Monica is extremely private and humble. As a result, abortion, she “should have no right to interfere with
not many people in West Virginia know the impact she After high school, Monica went to work. When she what [her] neighbor does in relation to her reproduc-
has had on the fight for justice in the state. So, as was 19, she got a job that had a significant impact on tive healthcare. And a group of old men surely
Monica approaches retirement, we thought it was the woman she is today. Monica was an admissions shouldn’t be able to make those decisions.”
important to tell her story. clerk at the Jefferson County (Alabama) Hospital. This
was a hospital for indigent people. About 95% of the Of all of the cases Monica has seen come through our
27 28

OUR E H A R E D Adham’s Story

Adham, a college sophomore, sits in the student center The truth is, he and his family are choosing to stay in
at Marshall University waiting for his next class to our state when so many are choosing to leave. In 2016
begin. “I just don’t enjoy the sciences as much I alone, immigrants contributed $76.3 million in West
thought I would,” he says while toying around with the Virginia state taxes and on average, they are 2.5 times
idea of switching majors from pre-dentistry to business more likely to have a college degree than native-born

West Virginians. These staggering statistics lead to

management. Adham sought asylum from Syria and

moved to the United States five years ago with his one conclusion - immigrants are a vital part of West
mom and four brothers. With self-described “luck” and Virginia’s economy and we should not be creating
determination, they fled the war torn region and made policies that deter them from living in and contributing
their way to West Virginia where his uncle lived. to our state.
Leaving his father
and the only life Staying alive in a war torn country, fleeing your
he knew behind, home for a better life, and resettling in a
his family settled new, foreign place is no small feat - especially
in Charleston before the age of 20. Adham’s story is
and started harrowing, but it shares many common
anew. themes with countless immigrants actively
choosing to call West Virginia home. The
When asked ACLU of West Virginia is working to ensure
what he likes people like Adham and his family are welcome

West Virginia Can’t Afford To

most about in our state by fighting racist and bigoted
West Virginia, policies that create barriers for their arrival.
Even without the economic benefits, denying

Turn Its Back On Immigrants

he doesn’t
hesitate to access to people who want to live in our state
answer the does not reflect our values as West Virginians.
outdoors and
the people - Before leaving, Adham turns back and says one
“It’s small and a huge number of people like to help last thing, “West Virginia is home for me.” A
each other,” he says. proud declaration with clear implications and, no
doubt, echoed by countless other people whose roots
The transition hasn’t always been so easy. He take hold in the
describes the adjustment as “stressful” being careful Mountain State.
not to say hard or difficult. Even though his dad was
able to flee Syria for Saudi Arabia, they have not been
successful in getting documentation to bring him to
the United States. As the oldest of five siblings, that
With a declining population,
leaves the bulk of the responsibility for raising his four
brothers to his mother and him.
West Virginia is in no place to Immigrants in West Virginia
are “I want people in the state to know we don’t need
turn away people that want to 2.5 times more likely to be
college money. We are happy,” a phrase he employs to justify
his family’s existence in West Virginia. It’s no surprise
come to our state. educated than non-immigra
nts. he feels the need to overstate this point given the
current national political climate and the abhorrent
proposed anti-immigration policies coming out of the
West Virginia Legislature.

Not too long after settling in West Virginia, Adham’s

In 2016, immigrants in West mom purchased a small restaurant in
South Charleston - a move that further solidified their
Virginia contributed $76.3 ties to the region. With the new business and the
million in state taxes. pursuit of his education, it’s hard to deny Adham’s
family is living out the promise of the American
29 30

When Ryan Met Ali would say that Ryan, the West Virginia girl, and Ali,
the West African refugee, made an unlikely couple.
In June 2017, Ali was called to report to the ICE office in Charleston, WV. They revoked his order of supervision
without any explanation. They arrested Ali took him to York County Prison in York, PA. The ACLU of Pennsylva-
But at heart, both Ryan and Ali are survivors. nia filed a suit on Ali’s behalf claiming a violation of his civil rights and unlawful imprisonment. Sadly, before the
As we learned the horrifying details of President judge issued a decision in that case, the government of Sierra Leone agreed to accept Ali’s deportation after
Trump’s policy of separating families at the border, While Ali’s immigration case was being litigated, Ryan being pressured by the US government.
many Americans experienced anger, fear and sadness. knew in the back of her head there was always a
For native West Virginian Ryan Brown, the news chance Ali’s asylum claim could be denied. At first, it In September 2017, Ali lost his fight to stay in a country where he felt safe, where he has friends, where he
stories rekindled personal trauma she has experienced. prevented her from fully giving in to the love they worked to live a simple and peaceful life with his wife Ryan. Yet another family torn apart by our broken system.
Ryan is the victim of a different type of family separa- shared. But after years together, Ryan could no
tion policy being carried out in our names by the U.S. longer let her fears surrounding the immigration case West Virginia lost an exceptional human being who was a productive, tax-paying member of society---someone who
immigration system. control her life decisions. In 2010, Ali and Ryan took fully contributed to his community and deserved a good life. All Ali sought in return was the chance to work for
the leap and got married. basic human necessities and live a life free from fear. Instead, he was deported back to a country where he had
During the long, bloody civil war that ravaged Sierra been traumatized and had nothing.
Leone during the 1990’s, Mamadu Ali Balde (Ali) Ali was not able to apply for permanent residency (a
witnessed the execution of many of his close family green card) based on his marriage to Ryan because of After arriving in Sierra Leone, Ali traveled to Guinea where a surviving brother who also fled the war currently
members. Ali narrowly escaped capture from the rebel his initial denial of asylum 11 years earlier. After lives. His living conditions in Guinea are deplorable and heartbreaking. He has no running water, no sewage
army, who killed and maimed his family and friends, thousands of dollars in legal fees, Ali lost his final system, no stable job or income, limited electricity, and no access to medical care.
and fled to the neighboring country of Guinea where federal appeal in 2012 due to lack of qualifying docu-
he stayed in a refugee camp organized by the United mentation and was issued a final order of deportation. Ryan and the rest of Ali’s family have struggled to cope with his absence. While they continue to seek a legal
Nations. In January 2012, Immigration and Customs Enforce- remedy that could pave the way for Ali’s return to West Virginia, they constantly worry about his safety, health,
ment (ICE) agents arrested Ali at their apartment as and emotional well-being. They worry whether his most basic necessities like food and clean water are being
In 1999, as a young man with virtually no English Ryan looked on. ICE took Ali to an immigration met. And they worry whether they will be able to maintain regular communication with the man they love.
skills and no knowledge of the US immigration system, detention center in York, PA where he spent nearly a
Ali made his way to the United States. Unlike so year in prison. This is the reality of our immigration system. This is the reality of family separation. This is the reality of
many others, he had survived the extreme violence and America.
persecution. He had found safety. And he had a Throughout Ali’s incarceration, Sierra Leone refused
future. to cooperate with ICE or recognize Ali as a native
citizen. As a result, ICE could not deport him to
Ali applied for asylum in the United States. As a Sierra Leone. Nonetheless, ICE continued to hold
survivor of the war in Sierra Leone, Ali seemed a Ali---a hard working man who was a model resident of
perfect candidate for asylum. However, his application the United States---in prison.
was the start of what would be a long and difficult
After 11 months behind bars, in November of 2012,
struggle with our broken immigration system. For
thirteen years, Ali’s asylum case went back and forth ICE finally released Ali on the condition that he
between the byzantine immigration court system and routinely check in with ICE. Ali headed to West
the federal court system. Virginia where he was reunited with Ryan.

During that time, Ali made the United States his Although he did not have any realistic legal remedies FOLLOW US FOLLOW US
home. He worked, found community and met Ryan, left to pursue, Ali was permitted to stay in the United @aclu_wv @acluwv
whom he soon realized was the love his life. Some States and work legally, but he could not apply for
permanent residency. He was a man without a coun-
try. Ali was neither able to leave the country, nor
adjust status to become a legal resident of the US. A
good man and his family were trapped in a broken
Photo Credits: Rafael Barker, Billy Wolfe, Julie
Hamilton and Joseph Cohen

Contributing Credits: Kendra Gillenwater,

Tix Rumbaugh, Loree Stark, Mollie Kennedy,
Joseph Cohen, Eli Baumwell and Tim Ward

Design Credit: Tyler Williams Design