Wednesday, October 14, 2009

ACLU Student Alliance and Legal Studies Association to Host Know Your Rights Workshop in Preparation for Annual Halloween "Freakfest" Activities

University of Wisconsin-Madison’s American Civil Liberties Union Student Alliance and Legal Studies Association will co-host a timely “Know Your Rights Workshop” on Wednesday, Oct. 21 from 6:30 – 8:00 pm at the Mosse Humanities Building, Room 3650, located on 455 N. Park St.

Co-sponsors include the Criminal Justice Certificate Program, the Criminal and Juvenile Justice Student Association, College Democrats, College Republicans, Young Americans for Liberty, Students for Russ Feingold, Pre-Law Society, Students for Equal Access to Law School, and Wisconsin Union Directorate Society and Politics Committee, making it a truly nonpartisan event.

The workshop will be led by Madison criminal defense attorney Erik Guenther of the Hurley, Burish, and Stanton Law Firm, who also serves as a volunteer attorney for the ACLU of Wisconsin and is the sitting President of the ACLU of Wisconsin Board of Directors.

"I have been doing Know Your Rights Workshops for students at colleges throughout Wisconsin since 2003. The Bill of Rights is nothing more than a piece of paper if people don't understand the protections that they have from government intrusion,” said Guenther. “Many people, including students, wrongly believe that they are required to allow police to search their property and wrongly believe that they have to answer questions asked by police. These workshops educate the audience about the fundamentals of our Constitutional protections. Too many young people premise their understanding of the Bill of Rights upon incorrect information from television or vague notions from textbooks. I talk about how the Bill of Rights relates to the real experiences of students."

The workshop will take place ten days before the annual Halloween “Freakfest” activities, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 31. “Freakfest” has consistently resulted in many arrests of students and community members. In 2008, 77 attendees were arrested.

"At the ACLU of Wisconsin, we get calls or complaints from people who feel their rights were violated by law enforcement," said Stacy Harbaugh, ACLU of Wisconsin Community Advocate. "It is important for every individual to understand their rights in traffic stops, searches or any other encounters with police. This workshop teaches the details of everyone's rights to privacy and to be free from self-incrimination."

Event co-host ACLUSA-UW aims to be a campus and community civil rights educator.

“The ‘Know Your Rights Workshops’ are just a small, but important sample of the work we do on-campus and in the Madison community,” said ACLUSA president and senior Jessica Johnson. “Most people are unaware of the extent and details of their civil liberties, so we want to change that.”

During Freakfest 2008, members of the ACLUSA-UW handed out “bust” cards to attendees, meant to serve as a reference for party-goers in the event that they are stopped by police.

“The cards got a very positive response among those attending Freakfest and far fewer arrests occurred than in past years,” said Johnson.

For additional information on the “Know Your Rights” workshop and the ACLUSA-UW, contact Steve Horn at or (262) 705-5856 or Jessica Johnson at or (303) 653-6524.

About the ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union is a national organization defending civil liberties as well as protecting constitutional and civil rights. The ACLU of Wisconsin is a membership organization that defends the civil liberties and rights of all Wisconsin residents in a non-partisan manner.

About Legal Studies Association

The mission of the LSA is to promote the professional and social development of students interested in law related careers through educational and social experiences with other students, academic professionals, and community leaders.


Post a Comment

<< Home