‘Letters: Bykofsky’s ideas skate on thin ICE’ via Philly.com

On Friday, July 18, 2014, Daily News Columnist Stu Bykofsky wrote an article entitled ‘Welcome, foreign felons.’ The following Letter to the Editor is in response to that article:

NO ONE should be held in jail for days on end because some federal agent wants to “run checks” on them to see whether it would be lawful to arrest them for something. In fact, the Fourth, Fifth and 14th Amendments to our Constitution prohibit that kind of tyrannical police-state behavior.

Yet, Stu Bykofsky, in his column “Welcome, foreign felons,” takes Mayor Nutter to task for upholding this basic American principle. The city has a policy, in place since mid-April, of refusing to honor non-binding “detainer” requests lodged by federal immigration authorities on prisoners in city jails whom our criminal justice system has determined should be released. In the court case – won by the ACLU – that determined that these ICE “detainers” are legally unenforceable, the plaintiff was a U.S. citizen, born in New Jersey, whom Allentown police wrongly suspected of being an undocumented noncitizen. As a result, he spent over three extra days in jail, despite having already made bail, while ICE got around to figuring out the police were wrong. (As it turned out, he was mistakenly in jail in the first place; when his trial came up, he was acquitted of the charge for which he had been arrested.)

Philadelphia’s policy avoids travesties like that one (and the resulting liability) by refusing to keep people in jail at the mere request of ICE. Under the policy the city, quite properly, will hold someone for pickup by ICE only if the feds have gotten a warrant for their deportation or arrest.

Instead of engaging in baseless fear-mongering, Bykofsky should be praising the city administration for standing up for everyone’s equal civil rights. A country where any low-level government official can tell the police to jail you for days on mere suspicion, or for “investigation,” is not the country described in the Constitution of the United States.

Peter Goldberger
President
ACLU of Greater Philadelphia

Reggie Shuford
Executive Director
ACLU of Pennsylvania

Read the original article, including a letter from Everett Gillison, Chief of Staff/Deputy Mayor of Philadelphia, at Philly.com

You, Me and James Dupree

By Carol Petraitis, Director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania’s Duvall Reproductive Freedom Project

James Dupree with The Diptych (1976/79). 72×72, acrylic on canvas. Right panel from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; left panel from the collection of the artist. (credit: Mike Zaikowski, Profiles Studios, Philadelphia http://www.dupreestudiosinc.com/)

James Dupree with The Diptych (1976/79). 72×72, acrylic on canvas. Right panel from the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art; left panel from the collection of the artist.
(credit: Mike Zaikowski, Profiles Studios, Philadelphia http://www.dupreestudiosinc.com/)

In our official capacities, Reggie Shuford, our executive director; Peter Goldberger, the president of the ACLU-Philadelphia Chapter; and I attended an opening for Philadelphia artist James Dupree on Saturday night. Hmmm . . . exactly what was the civil liberties issue at the Dupree Gallery??

Last month, the ACLU signed on to a coalition letter to Mayor Nutter accusing the city of abusing its power of eminent domain by trying to seize Dupree’s Mantua property, which he calls his “private artistic sanctuary and haven.” Dupree, an accomplished artist who has several paintings housed at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, spent years turning a broken-down warehouse and garage into a unique art space where he works and has hosted art classes.

The city now plans bulldoze Dupree’s studio and turn it over to a commercial developer to build a grocery store and a parking lot – despite the fact there are numerous abandoned properties throughout Mantua. The city has also grossly undervalued the property.

The ACLU is part of a coalition supporting Dupree’s fight against the city of Philadelphia, along with what may be the strangest assortment of bedfellows ever – from the right-leaning Americans for Prosperity (which David and Charles Koch founded), the Commonwealth Foundation and the Institute for Justice to the artsy Institute for Contemporary Art and the Painted Bride.

(credit: Carol Petraitis)

(credit: Carol Petraitis)

Much of Dupree’s vivid new work (pictured above) has been fueled by the stress of being a David up against a Goliath. If you’re moved by his plight, consider signing onto the petition, write directly to Mayor Nutter, or visit Dupree’s gallery in Queen Village (703 S. 6th Street).

To learn more, follow this link: http://www.savedupreestudios.org/

Carol Petraitis directs the ACLU-PA’s reproductive rights work, but her undergraduate degree is in visual art.