The following statement can be attributed to Mary Bauer, executive director of the ACLU of Virginia:
Virginians exercised their right to vote and the Republican party won the Governor, Lt. Governor, and Attorney General races, as well as gaining the majority in the House of Delegates. We look forward to working with the new administration to make Virginia a fair and equitable state.
Over the past few years, Virginia has made progress, leading the South in police, voting, and prison reform – legalizing marijuana, repealing the death penalty, and taking the first step to guarantee the right to vote to all Virginians 18 and over who are not currently serving time for a felony conviction. These are all positive steps toward ending the vestiges of Jim Crow that were baked into the constitution of the Commonwealth.
As the newly elected officials take control, we hope for a measured approach and that careful consideration will be given to important civil rights and civil liberties issues like police reform, voting rights, LGBTQ rights, reproductive rights, and more. Our common goal should be working toward a Virginia that strives for freedom for all its people. Virginia, touted as leading the South, cannot let the people of the Commonwealth down by allowing our progress to be undone. We will hold this new administration accountable, just as we’ve done for every other administration for more than 50 years.
Here’s what heartens us: As an organization and as individuals, we’ve always been resilient. We know that change doesn’t happen overnight, and we know that there are many Virginians that reject the ideology of fear, racism, and xenophobia. That encourages us to keep fighting. The ACLU was made for moments like this.
We’ve proven time and time again our ability to defend freedom in even the most difficult of circumstances. Now more than ever, we’ll keep up the fight, and the help of every member, donor, supporter, and freedom-seeking individual is essential to keep the momentum going.
We’ll continue working with our lawmakers, our courts, and you to dismantle the lingering vestiges of colonization, slavery, Jim Crow, and more than four hundred years of racial discrimination and structural inequality that persist in our daily lives.
We’ll continue to fight for an end to the War on Drugs, mass incarceration, and solitary confinement, among other prison reform issues that keep too many Black and Brown people entangled in an unjust criminal legal system.
We’ll continue our work to end felony voter disenfranchisement and ensure that right to vote extends to the 250,000 Virginians convicted of a felony.
We’ll continue to reimagine policing and challenge the discriminatory policing policies and practices that disproportionately harm Black and Brown communities.
We’ll continue our work to enforce the Virginia Humans Rights Act and challenge gender and sex-based discrimination.
We will hold all of our elected officials accountable and won’t rest until every person, no matter who they are, can reach their potential and live a life free of oppression. We believe that “We the People” includes EVERYONE. We ask you to join us in this work. Remain diligent, remain engaged, remain advocates for freedom.