ACLU of Northern California and Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus File Amicus Brief Supporting Siskiyou County Hmong Community’s Civil Rights 

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August 16, 2021

ACLU of Northern California and Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus File Amicus Brief Supporting Siskiyou County Hmong Community’s Civil Rights 

Amid growing calls for justice in Siskiyou County, California, as the local Hmong community encounters horrific systemic racism and discrimination from local officials and law enforcement, Advancing Justice – Asian Law Caucus and the ACLU of Northern California have filed an amicus brief supporting the Hmong community’s lawsuit against a discriminatory water ordinance.

The brief explains how a Siskiyou County ordinance targeting Hmong farmers and community members violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause and how the county has deprived residents of basic access to water in violation of due process rights. Local law enforcement also has used the ordinance to harass Hmong residents and take their property. Asian Law Caucus and ACLU NorCal argue that the court should prohibit the discriminatory water ordinance and grant the Hmong community’s preliminary injunction as the plaintiffs and defendants engage in court-mandated mediation. 

Excerpts from the brief include:

“The County offers no legitimate or sufficient rationale for enacting restrictive water ordinances targeting the Hmong community. Further, the County’s disparate treatment of the County’s Hmong community has created a hazard. The ordinances should be enjoined.”

“The water ordinances [target] the Shasta Vista subdivision, which is approximately 75% Hmong, even though approximately 97% of the marijuana grows (and persuadably associated water and environmental impacts) that the ordinance is supposedly designed to address are located outside Shasta Vista according to the Defendants’ own records.”

“Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits on a substantive due process claim as their evidence firmly demonstrates that (1) Defendants passed the challenged ordinances which deprive Plaintiffs residing in the Shasta Vista subdivision of access to water and have enforced these ordinances to cut off water supplies to Plaintiffs’ community; (2) Defendants’ actions have caused real danger to Plaintiffs, whose lives and livelihood depend on water access, particularly in the midst of summer, a drought, and a volatile and dangerous fire season; (3) Defendants are aware their actions have placed Plaintiffs in real danger; and (4) Defendants have failed to take obvious steps to address the danger of water deprivation they continue to inflict on Plaintiffs.” 

Over the past few weeks, the Asian Law Caucus, ACLU, community members, civil rights advocates, and local and state officials, and many others across the country have been calling on the Siskiyou Board of Supervisors to rescind their discriminatory ordinance and end their racist efforts to evade responsibility and meaningful dialogue with the Hmong community. 

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