Protecting civil liberties is vital at the federal and state levels of government—but people's day-to-day lives are often most affected by their local community and city and town laws.
You can be a leader of civil liberties in your community!
The National ACLU has launched a nationwide action network called People Power to support local activism on civil liberties. As your local affiliate, the ACLU of Massachusetts has developed local actions for communities focused on the needs, laws and policies of Massachusetts. We encourage you to be involved with People Power, but when it comes to building local ordinance or policy campaigns, we encourage you to use the materials we have built specifically for Massachusetts.
The ACLU of Massachusetts has created a series of Advocacy Toolkits for residents to organize and introduce local ordinances on pressing civil liberties issues in Massachusetts. We encourage you to use these materials and develop your own advocacy in your community.
If you have questions about local advocacy, please contact [email protected].
Building a Local Advocacy Campaign
In any local advocacy campaign there are basic steps for success that should be followed – regardless of the issue being promoted. Here are basic tips for building a local campaign:
- Become familiar with the issue you are promoting – both the pro and con arguments;
- Reach out to friends, neighbors and community organizations to see if anyone in your community is already working on the issue you want to support;
- Reach out and ensure that communities affected by the issue you want to support agree with your proposal and that affected community members are part of the advocacy leadership from the beginning of your efforts;
- There are four forms of local government in Massachusetts. Learn and understand how your city or town operates. Find out here.
- Learn the current local policies and ordinances associated with the issue you are promoting. Has your community acted on this issue in the past? What were the results?
- Reach out to appropriate members of your local government to find sponsors and champions for your issue so you can move forward with a local ordinance proposal;
- Get to know the arguments made by opposition to your proposal and which organizations and people that work against your local advocacy effort; and
- Introduce your ordinance proposal and work with your supporters, with guidance from your government/elected champions, to pass your proposal.
Local Advocacy Support from the ACLU
ACLU of Massachusetts staff would love to work in all the communities where local advocates want to take on civil liberties advocacy. Unfortunately, we cannot make that commitment. If you decide to build a local campaign, please realize that the ACLU will not be able to help manage the work or coordinate logistics.
When possible, we may be able answer specific questions, consult with you on strategy, or promote your local efforts through social media and other communications. Please contact [email protected].
Here are some issue-specific resources to guide your advocacy. We will be adding toolkits (and new information to existing toolkits) as new materials become available.
Pass an ordinance that bans the use of local resources to enforce federal immigration laws.
Pass an ordinance to require local city/town governments to use the public process to approve acquisition of surveillance tools by local law enforcement.
Pass an ordinance to require local law enforcement officials to implement a Body Worn Camera program with detailed policies to protect both residents and police.
Learn how to advance our work—by attending events, contacting your legislators and more—during these critical times.