Register for Reclaiming Our Democracy Conference


It’s time to take stock.

It will have been 15 years this fall since the terrorist attacks of 9/11. Our country has changed in countless ways since then.

The ACLU of Virginia and the Richmond Peace Education Center are planning a day-long community forum,“Reclaiming Our Democracy: 15 Years After 9/11,” to pause and reflect upon these changes. This event will feature local and nationally known speakers and explore how the events of 9/11, and the choices of decision-makers in its aftermath, have affected the trajectory of American society with respect to democracy, civil liberties and foreign policy.

“Reclaiming Our Democracy” will empower people to work toward a freer, more peaceful and equitable country.


Here are the details of what “Reclaiming Our Democracy” will include:

Saturday, Sept. 17, 2016

Tyler Haynes Commons
University of Richmond

28 Westhampton Way
Richmond, VA

Cost: $25, includes lunch.
There are limited number of scholarships for low-income individuals. To apply for a scholarship, contact


General Agenda
8:45-9:30 a.m.: Registration tables open
9:30-10 a.m.: Gathering and Welcome
10-11:30 a.m.: Morning Plenary Session, “What We Have Lost, Why It Matters, What We Can Do”
11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.: Lunch, “Sharing Lived Experiences”
1-2:30 p.m. and 2:45-4:15 p.m.: Concurrent Afternoon Workshops (each participant can attend two workshops)

The Militarization of Police in Our Communities
With the use of post-9/11 federal grants, local and state police have outfitted their departments with surplus military equipment, including mine-resistant vehicles, and other gear and firepower that is far beyond what is necessary for their jobs to protect our community. Sending heavily armed teams of officers to perform “normal” police work can dangerously and needlessly escalate situations. The militarization of police has corresponded with a changing attitude whereby police conceive themselves “at war” with the very communities they are charged with keeping safe. Virginia is no exception to this trend with 100 localities in the Commonwealth taking advantage of these military surplus programs all with little to no oversight or public discussion. In this workshop, we’ll discuss the cause and rise of the militarization of police, as well as its impact on community policing and its effect on our localities, particularly within communities of color.
The Growth of Government Surveillance and the Threat to Privacy
Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, the government has increasingly used technological advancements to invade our privacy and conduct suspicionless spying on ordinary Americans. The government has at its disposal a host of technologies – warrantless wiretapping, use of drones, stingrays that track cell phones, Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs), to name a few – that allow it to gather metadata and find our personal information about individuals. All this surveillance ultimately stifles free speech, inhibits legitimate behaviors and choices, and results in biased-targeting that harms innocent people. In this workshop we’ll discuss the various technologies and threats to our privacy, its impact on our communities, and ways that you can help fight back to protect our privacy.
Rethinking the Global War on Terror and Exploring Alternatives
In the fifteen years since 9/11 our country has prosecuted a global “war on terror” with no deadlines and no exits, remaining in a perpetual state of war since 2001. Wars have resulted in death and injury for thousands of GI’s, including the death of more than 200 Virginians, and widespread death and displacement in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Pakistan, and have made our country and the world less safe. This workshop will look at our country’s foreign policies of the last 15 years and explore avenues to rekindle the use of diplomacy, soft power, and other foreign policy alternatives for real security.
The Color of Terror and the Psychology of Hate
Since 9/11/2001 the U.S. has waged a “war on terror” that has assumed that most terrorists who threaten our country are Arab Muslims. Under this assumption we have waged war in the Middle East and targeted Muslims, including many born and raised in this country. Meanwhile, white hate groups here in the USA have increased exponentially. This workshop will address the racial component of the “war on terror” and the psychology of hate that has been allowed to fester in a some segments of America.

4:15-5 p.m.: Closing Plenary Session, “Taking Action”

About the Speakers

Lecia BrooksbwLecia Brooks is Outreach Director for the Southern Poverty Law Center and serves as director of the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Ala.. Previously, Lecia worked for 12 years in a number of capacities for the National Conference for Community and Justice in its Los Angeles office.

Kade CrockfordKade Crockford is the Director of Technology for Liberty Program at ACLU of Massachusetts. Kade works to protect and expand core First and Fourth Amendment rights and civil liberties in the digital 21st century, focusing on how systems of surveillance and control impact not just society in general but their primary targets – people of color, Muslims, immigrants and dissidents.

kate-gouldKate Gould is the Legislative Representative for Middle East Policy at Friends Committee on National Legislation, a Quaker lobby fielding the largest team of registered peace lobbyists in Washington, D.C.  Kate also serves on the board of Churches for Middle East Peace, and is a political partner with Truman National Security Project.

Talat Hamdani

Talat Hamdani is a Pakistan-born American who became a commentator after her son was killed during the attacks on September 11, 2001.  Her son, Mohammad Salman Hamdani was a New York Police Department Cadet.  Talat has described how her son – a paramedic who had spontaneously made his way to help at the World Trade Center, only to die when the buildings collapsed – was investigated following the attacks. In 2010 Talat’s support of the building of the “ground zero mosque” was widely reported.

Wornie Reed

Dr. Wornie Reed is Professor of Sociology and Africana Studies and Director of the Race and Social Policy Research Center, Virginia Tech. Dr. Reed teaches courses in health and medical care, criminal justice, and Africana studies. Dr. Reed is a graduate of Alabama State University and earned his masters and doctorate degrees in Sociology at Boston University. Among the books Dr. Reed has written are African Americans: Essential Perspectives (2003) and Blacks in Tennessee (2008).

Lisa SchirchDr. Lisa Schirch is North American Research Director for the Toda Institute for Global Peace and Policy Research, Senior Policy Advisor with the Alliance for Peacebuilding, and Research Professor at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. In 2015, Dr. Schirch finished a three year project coordinating a global network to write a Handbook on Human Security and a set of case studies on Local Ownership in Security. A former Fullbright Fellow in East and West Africa, Dr. Schirch has conducted conflict assessments and participated in peacebuilding planning alongside local colleagues in over 20 countries including Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Indonesia.


Hina Shamsi is Director of ACLU’s National Security Project, which is dedicated to ensuring that United States national security policies and practices are consistent with the Constitution, civil liberties, and human rights.  Hina has litigated cases upholding the freedoms of speech and association, and challenging target killing, torture, unlawful detention, and post 9/11 discrimination against racial and religious minorities.

Larry Syverson is a Richmond resident whose three sons have served multiple deployments in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Larry relates how those tours of duty caused disruptions, stresses, and hardships on family members.

Phillip Thompson, Esq.,  is President of the Loudoun Branch NAACP.

larrywilkersonColonel Lawrence Wilkerson is Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Government and Public Policy at William and Mary. Col. Wilkerson retired from active service in 1997 and began work as an advisor to General Colin Powell.  He continued to serve General Powell as special assistant and then as Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Powell. Col. Wilkerson also served as Associate Director of the State Department’s Policy and Planning Staff under Ambassador Richard N. Haass and as the staff member responsible for East Asia and the Pacific, political-military and legislative affairs. He is currently working on a book about the George H. W. Bush administration.

Adam Bates is a policy analyst with Cato’s Project on Criminal Justice. His research interests include constitutional law, the War on Drugs, the War on Terror, police militarization, and overcriminalization.


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Thank you to the WILL* program at the University of Richmond, our University liaison.