Jackson said the ACLU used to offer a hotline service in North Texas that answered dozens of calls per week, but the program was scrapped as the ACLU’s mission changed to focus more on lobbying and legislative efforts.
“I think the … ACLU is not as interested in covering cases that affect individual persons,” he said. “They used to have a regional office in North Texas, and they shut that down for a variety of reasons and consolidated their efforts in Austin. So they have very little presence in North Texas.”
Terri Burke, executive director of ACLU of Texas, said that is a misconception of her group’s evolving role. The ACLU still accepts individual complaints of civil rights violations through the group’s website and by mail, she said, and recently reopened its Dallas office.
“In the past we sat around and took whatever came over the transom,” she said. “Now we are more focused, with an affirmative agenda as well as having to play defense.” Her group’s work “is very strategic now,” she said, focusing on prison reforms, reproductive rights, border enforcement, and LGBT issues.
“I think what [NTCRP] is doing is just great,” she added. “For a group of volunteers to organize like that is a wonderful thing for that area.”
What’s still missing is better awareness of the new group in the community, Krause said. Discrimination against gays and Muslims and tensions between African-Americans and law enforcement are running high.
“If you don’t see lawsuits, you’re going to see demonstrations,” Krause said. “If you don’t see demonstrations, then we’re going to see violence if we don’t start facing these problems.”
Fort Worth freelance writer Edward Brown can be reached at email@example.com.