Free State Liberties - Winter 2024

December 15, 2023

Winter 2024 issue of Free State Liberties, the newsletter by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland and the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Maryland.


  • Letter from the Executive Director & Board President
  • 2024 Maryland General Assembly Priorities
  • Legal Resources
  • Legal Report
  • Racial Justice & Marijuana


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Winter 2024: Spotlights

Letter from the Executive Director & Board President

Dear Friends of Civil Liberties

We invite community members to apply to be a volunteer board member. Open call. ACLU logo on brick building.

We are excited and proud to announce that the ACLU of Maryland has a new open process for community members to apply to be volunteer board members. Board members oversee the governance of the organization, and membership on our board is a unique opportunity to support our civil rights and civil liberties work.

Our staff and volunteer board members share our organization's five values:

  1. Transparency
  2. Collaboration
  3. Equity
  4. Integrity
  5. Accountability

Through these values, we empower Marylanders to exercise their rights so that the law values and uplifts their humanity. Our vision is that Maryland's people are united in affirming and exercising their rights in order to address inequities and fulfill the country's unrealized promise of justice and freedom for all.

Are you or do you know someone who could be a great board member? Please apply or share our open application today!

Yours in liberty and equity,

Dana Vickers Shelley
Executive Director

Homayra Ziad
Board President

2024 Maryland General Assembly Priorities

Public Policy

ACLU-MD Grassroots Legislative Leadership Day. Group photo from Lobby Day in 2022. There's a photo of the state house overtop with a pink overlay.

Are you ready to make a positive impact during the 2024 General Assembly? We’ve got you covered for many of the most pressing civil liberties and civil rights issues affecting Marylanders. Together we will empower Marylanders to exercise their rights so that the law values and uplifts their humanity.

In the state legislature, we advocate for a broad range of rights – including access to justice, legal justice reform, election fairness, and voting rights, freedom of expression, government transparency, police accountability, rights of people who are incarcerated, public school students' right to education, equal protection, privacy, racial justice, due process, religious liberty, and LGBTQ+ and reproductive rights.

We are also strategic, so that we can make deep, lasting change. Learn about some of the issues we expect to dedicate significant time and resources to in 2024:

  • Police Accountability Boards
  • Marijuana Legalization
  • Access to Parole
  • Voting Rights
  • Access to Justice
  • Children’s Rights

Racial Justice & Marijuana

New Toolkit, Local Advocacy

Collage with group photo of protesters advocating for the end of the "war on drugs." The center is a Black person with their fist raised, looking at the camera. The protesters are holding signs. Cutouts of marijuana are in the image.

A new toolkit and local campaigns in Prince George’s and Baltimore are centering racial justice in how marijuana tax funds will be spent locally. In 2022, the Maryland General Assembly created the Community Repair and Reinvestment Fund (HB 837). This new law says that in Maryland’s new recreational marijuana market, at least 35 percent of the state tax revenue must be used to repair, heal, and reinvest into the communities that have been most harmed by the dangerous “war on drugs.”

How can we make sure marijuana reparations happens in the most impactful way? A key new resource is the Cannabis Advocacy Toolkit, written by Dayvon Love, director of public policy for the Leaders of a Beautiful Struggle, in partnership with the ACLU. The toolkit is a conceptual guide for community advocates in Maryland working to ensure racial justice is centered as cannabis (marijuana) is legalized and tax dollars are distributed from the newly legal market.

Police Accountability Self-Advocacy Toolkit

Legal Resource

A person's hands are holding a large protest sign that says, "No Voice Unheard." The background is blurred out but you can see that there are people at a protest. Courtesy credit: Molly Kaplan, ACLU.

We have a powerful new resource for Marylanders who have experienced abuse by police, the Police Accountability Self-Advocacy Toolkit. Our new toolkit describes ways a person harmed by police may use existing, though inadequate, accountability structures. We also hope the toolkit will highlight flaws in the system and encourage Marylanders to change it.

LGBTQ+ Students – Know Your Rights

Legal Resource

Collage image with a piece of paper with school supplies visible in bright but muted neon colors. There is a backpack cutout and a student facing away with their hand up sitting at a desk with a progress pride flag on their vest. Back to School Know Your

We have an awesome new resource for students and their families! LGBTQ+ Students' Rights at School in Maryland is our latest Know Your Rights guide that focuses on gender, dress codes, self-expression, and more.

Legal Report

Legal Advocacy

The Federalsburg Election: History 200 Years in the Making. Brandy James is a Black woman who was recently elected to serve in the Federalsburg government. She is wearing glasses and has her hair. There is a Black man wearing a gray suit on her left.

Voting Rights

This September saw a historic moment for Federalsburg, a town on Maryland's Eastern Shore, when for the first time in 200 years, Black officials were finally elected to represent their town.

Government Accountability

Family members and the Coalition for Justice for Anton Black in November announced final resolution of their federal court litigation following the brutal, unconstitutional killing of Anton Black.

Immigrants’ Rights

In response to Frederick County Sheriff Charles Jenkins’ federal indictment on criminal charges, misuse of office, and poor civil rights record, the national ACLU joined with the ACLU of Maryland to file an administrative complaint in July to request an investigation by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties into the propriety of continuing the 287(g) agreement between ICE and the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office.

Support the ACLU of Maryland

Can we count on you to ensure that "We the People" means all of us?

We Show Up. Background is a picture of a protest with person with a raised fist. There are seven photos of ACLU of Maryland staff members who speak in the video.

Your personal commitment and strong support will make all the difference in the fight for civil rights. As 2023 comes to a close, we wish you and those you cherish renewed hope, health, and determination in 2024.

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Newsletter Editor: Meredith Curtis Goode
Newsletter Designer: Nicole McCann