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Adrienne Gavula, the regional office director and development director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Ohio affiliate, spoke at Baker University Center on Feb. 14, 2017.

ACLU speaker encourages "small acts of resistance" in talk at OU

Adrienne Gavula, the regional office director and development director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Ohio affiliate, encouraged a crowd of about 200 people to challenge President Donald Trump's administration by calling their elected officials, demanding town halls and looking forward to midterm elections.

Gavula, an Ohio University graduate, spoke Tuesday evening in Baker University Center at a talk called “The Future of Civil Liberties During the Trump Administration." The university’s Center for Law, Justice, and Culture hosted the event, which attracted students and residents alike.

“It’s small acts of resistance that are going to get us through this time,” she said.

Gavula discussed Trump’s executive order on immigration, signed Jan. 27, which temporarily suspended the entry of immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries for 90 days, all refugees for 120 days and Syrian refugees indefinitely. Following news of detentions and deportations of travelers arriving from those nations — even people with green cards and visas — protestors flocked to airports, and lawyers rushed to volunteer their services.

The ACLU challenged the order in court the following day, representing two Iraqi men detained at the Kennedy International airport, one of whom was a translator for the United States army. A judge issued a temporary stay on the order, but Gavula said for another 36 hours following the ruling, the Department of Homeland Security continued the deportations.

Gavula added that she worried the frenzy surrounding decisions on the national level distracted from state-level policy. The ACLU of Ohio is focusing on two bills in the state legislature right now, a bill on fetal remains and the Pastor Protection Act. 

One of which is Senate Bill 28, which would require burial or cremation of fetal remains from abortions. A similar bill was introduced last year but did not pass.

House Bill 286, the Pastor Protection Act, would protect religious leaders from having to perform same-sex weddings. Gavula said the bill addresses a non-existent problem because pastors are not required to marry same-sex couples. She added that the bill ambiguously defines “religious societies,” which would be allowed to prevent the use of religious buildings for weddings that don’t identify with their beliefs.

Gavula said ACLU has received an outpouring of support in recent months. It was several days into January before they finished processing the donations that flooded in after the election, Gavula said.

The average donation was $79, Gavula said.

“In my 13 years at the ACLU, I have not seen this level of commitment before,” Gavula said of the activism that has taken place since the election.

Bailey Noonan, a junior studying global studies, said she wanted to attend the talk because it sounded interesting, and the travel ban concerned her.

“I know a lot of people are worried right now, and I’m worried for my international friends,” Noonan said.

Jessica Roth, a junior studying sociology and global studies, said she most focused on the sanctuary university initiative, which would allow the university to limit its cooperation with federal immigration services.

The ACLU, founded in 1920, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in a couple of years.

“We didn’t make it 100 years to turn back now,” Gavula said.


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