Story and Photography by RACHEL YOUNG
5:30 am | October 7, 2013
The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California celebrated its Pasadena victories, honored a Southern California hero and highlighted national legal battles at its 14th annual garden party on Sunday.
Members of the Pasadena/Foothill chapter point to several accomplishments in Pasadena over the last year, including the rewritten Memorandum of Understanding that the Pasadena Unified School District Board of Education passed in August.
The chapter also helped register Northwest Pasadena residents to vote as well as giving households of color and persons with disabilities a voice to be involved in Pasadenaâ€™s General Plan Update process.
ACLU Board Member of the year Steve Rohde gave an update of the sixteen Supreme Court cases the ACLU helped shape during the last year, sharing their fundamental successes and setbacks as well as looking at the difficult battles ahead.
Major cases coming up next year include abortion rights, affirmative action, campaign finance, freedom of speech, separation of powers and separation of church and state
â€œThis is the virtual panoply of fundamental constitutional issues confronting this country and the ACLU you can bet on it will be there,â€ Rohde said. â€œIn its 90 year history, no organization has appeared before the United States Supreme Court more than the ACLU.â€
The garden party honored Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries.
â€œHeâ€™s a hero of our time, the fact is heâ€™s devoted his life to making a big difference in Los Angeles for lots of people who are oftentimes marginalized, left out, forgotten. And the ACLU is all about protecting the rights and civil liberties especially of the overlooked, the downtrodden, the forgotten just the kind of people that Father Boyle honors,â€ Chapter President Dick Price said.
Father Greg Boyle pastored a church in Boyle Heights, a neighborhood that has a greater concentration of gang members than any other neighborhood in Los Angeles, the gang capital of the world. With his caring parishioners they formed a business called Homeboy Industries that created employment sorely needed by gang members.
Since its creation in the 1990s Homeboy has become the largest gang intervention program in Los Angeles County, helping over 600,000 gangbangers.
â€œWhen you purchase a homeboy product you become part of the business process that is providing wages for all those to earn a living and avoid the gang life. Itâ€™s the American and Homeboy way. Jobs not Jail,â€ said Jim Nasella, who introduced Boyle, â€œFor the men and women at Homeboy, he is like a life raft, providing a job, a way out of the criminal life.â€
Father Greg Boyle said that the original translation for â€œblessedâ€ in the beatitudes did was not mean happy are the single hearted or those who work for peace but that you are in the right place.
â€œYouâ€™re in the right place if youâ€™re single hearted. Youâ€™re in the right place if you fight for justice. Youâ€™re in the right place if youâ€™re a peacemaker. So ACLU is in the right place,â€ Boyle said. â€œIn the end itâ€™s never about spirituality but about geography, about are you standing where you ought to be standing? Itâ€™s important when you stand for people who donâ€™t have a voice, with folks who are outside the circle of light, thatâ€™s noble.â€
Mayor Bill Bogaard, Anthony Portantino, Chief Phillip Sanchez with his wife Deborah Sanchez, and school board members Mikala Rahn and Elizabeth Pomeroy attended.
â€œWe do [this event] partly as a chance for all our members to come together,â€ Price said. â€œItâ€™s our major fundraiser for the year, so that we can put on things like â€œKnow Your Rights Workshops.â€
ACLU holds workshops to show young men of color what they can and cannot do if the police stop them. Price said they act as the watchdog on what the police do and connect high-powered attorneys to issues of great importance.
The ACLU Chapter Public Forums are held on the second Tuesday of the months of January, March, May, July, September, and November at Neighborhood Church 301 N Orange Grove Blvd beginning at 7:00 p.m. The next forum will be held November 12, 2013.
For more information visit www.aclu-sc.org/pasadena.