To the bafflement and consternation of many North Bay American Civil Liberties Union members and supporters, an announcement was released yesterday at 6:33 pm by Carole Guffanti Notley in the Facebook page for ACLU of Sonoma County that the local affiliate will be deactivating its Sonoma County Chapter and shutting down its Facebook site this weekend.
Here is the message in its entirety:
“It is with tremendous sorrow that I must announce the decision of the ACLU-NC to deactivate the Sonoma County Chapter. It seems unfathomable that, at this incredibly important time and with such an outpouring of support that we received at last Sunday’s Community Engagement Fair, such a thing would transpire, but it has.”
“Many people have given tremendous amounts of their time to volunteer for the Sonoma County Chapter over the years, and it would be remiss not to thank them for their unyielding support in the area of protection of civil liberties. In particular, I must thank Martin McReynolds for his tireless efforts attending community events, stepping in as past Chair, treasurer, and in producing our marvelous newsletter among many other noteworthy contributions.”
“I have been a board member for the past three years and am proud of the work our Chapter has accomplished in that time.”
“For those of you who wish to continue the work of the ACLU, I am directed to refer you to the ACLU-NC site in San Francisco. I will be shutting down this Facebook site this weekend. In the meantime, should you wish to stay active locally, please feel free to PM me on my personal FB site: Carole Guffanti Notley.”
“It has been an honor to serve you in the pursuit of justice and civil rights as Administrator of this page, and I hope you will all continue to be engaged in standing up to civil rights violations and to fight the good fight, now more than ever.”
This announcement comes a month after the Sonoma County chapter had announced that their website was being revamped because of an increased interest in the organization since the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States.
The website had stated:
“We look forward to seeing you at the next meeting on January 17th at 7 pm at the PJC, when we hold elections for our board.”
The February 3rd, 2017 announcement of deactivating the chapter is all the more puzzling in light of the closing lines of the last post by the ACLU-NC website:
“Get involved. Channel that anger in a productive way. Join us!”
All that is known, according to reports by the Sonoma County Chapter, is that the decision was made internally and the San Francisco Chapter had no knowledge of the decision.
The Sonoma County Chapter reports that:
“We have been directed to close the bank account for the chapter and send all money to the SF Affiliate.”
The San Francisco Affiliate oversees all the chapters in Northern California.
The Sonoma County Chapter has promised that a full explanation is forthcoming and I will update this post when the information becomes available.
Update (5 February 2017 at 10:33 am):
I’ve been contacted by a few people that are involved with the ACLU and my impression is that there are many people working diligently to maintain a solid support system for protecting civil liberties and they will update the public further on the events of the deactivation and also reassure members that there will continue to be an active organization. I’ve also spoken to a friend that was formerly involved and they have nothing but praise for the people that are involved with the ACLU-NC. ~RLR
Update via Facebook (5 January 2917 at 11:22):
Please be advised that effective immediately, the Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU has been deactivated.
For further information, contact:
American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California
39 Drumm Street • San Francisco, California 94111Phone: (415) 621-2493
Fax: (415) 255-1478
TTY: (415) 863-7832
Those seeking legal advice from ACLU of Northern CA may call (415) 621-2488 (Monday to Friday, 10am-12 noon & 1pm-3pm) or fill out a confidential online form.
While it is our understanding that ACLU-NC is amenable to reconstruction of a chapter in Sonoma County, and they are following up with individuals who have submitted applications to join the chapter board and will work to engage them in the ACLU in a timely manner, none of the current board will be considered.
The basis for this deactivation may be up for debate, but the decision by ACLU-NC is final.
We will reach out to our current membership and those who have expressed an interest in activism to offer them possible matches depending on their area of focus. There are many organizations in the Country that would benefit from volunteers and embrace values similar to those of the (now former) Sonoma County Chapter of the ACLU.
~Carole Guffanti Notley, Secretary
Sonoma County Chapter
ACLU of Northern California