On Wednesday, Jan. 26, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will be hosting a presentation titled “ACLU — What a Difference a DA (district attorney) Makes” on Zoom, from 6 to 7:30 pm. The League of Women Voters Martha’s Vineyard and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People are co-partners for the event. Kristi Strahler and Arthur Hardy-Doubleday will be representing each organization respectively. Visit bit.ly/WADADAMCapeCod to register for the event.
The event is being held in the wake of the announcement of Cape and Islands DA Michael O’Keefe, that he would not seek a sixth term earlier in the month.
According to information Strahler received from the ACLU, the program aims “to build voter awareness on the life-changing power wielded by district attorneys, and how voters can hold district attorneys accountable and encourage them to make fair and just decisions.” Additionally, ACLU found that the attitude voters had about the criminal justice system changed after learning what kind of impact and power a district attorney has on it. For example, a poll done by the ACLU of people who participated in the program in 2017 showed that 79 percent of voters said a commitment to racial justice is an important quality for district attorney candidates, and 81 percent of voters said they were more likely to pay attention to the 2018 local district attorney race.
Hardy-Doubleday said the ACLU program has had good results educating the public about what a district attorney does.
“A lot of people in the public don’t understand what the district attorney does,” Hardy-Doubleday said. He told The Times many participants became aware of what type of power a district attorney can have, particularly toward redirecting police departments’ resources and focus. An example Hardy-Doubleday gave was a district attorney in Philadelphia who brought in change to reallocate resources within the police department.
Hardy-Doubleday also said the organizations involved are 501(c)(3) nonprofits, so this is a nonpartisan Zoom presentation.
O’Keefe, a Republican, held the position for 20 years. “We’re not here to say he did a good job or a bad job, but what we are here to say is what this person does is important,” Hardy-Doubleday said. A number of organizations are interested in the event, Hardy-Doubleday said: “I think we’re going to have a good result.”