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Hate & Extremism
Landmark Case

Date Filed

November 22, 1989

In 1988, racist Skinheads beat an Ethiopian graduate student to death with a baseball bat. Mulugeta Seraw was murdered by recruits of neo-Nazi leader Tom Metzger, founder of White Aryan Resistance (WAR), who faced a Center civil suit and a $12.5 million judgment.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

October 19, 2011

Linda Smith, a U.S. citizen, and “John Doe,” an undocumented immigrant, had been a couple for more than nine years. When they decided to marry, they could not obtain a marriage license from the Montgomery County Probate Office in Alabama because the office denied licenses to couples unable to prove both partners have legal immigration status. The policy was not required by any federal or state law. The SPLC filed a lawsuit challenging the policy.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

November 18, 2011

As part of a harsh anti-immigrant law, the Alabama Department of Revenue required people who owned or maintained mobile homes in the state to prove their lawful immigration status before they could pay annual fees for an identification decal required for all mobile homes. The Southern Poverty Law Center and its allies filed a federal class-action lawsuit challenging the immigration check as a violation of the Fair Housing Act that threatened to leave families across the state homeless.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

November 17, 2011

Charelle Loder, a U.S. citizen, and “Jack Doe,” an undocumented immigrant from Haiti, had been a couple for five years. When they decided to marry, they could not obtain a marriage license from the Montgomery County Probate Office in Alabama because the office denied licenses to couples unable to prove both partners have legal immigration status. The policy was not required by any federal or state law. The SPLC filed a federal lawsuit challenging the policy.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

November 09, 2011

The state of Georgia discriminated against students with disabilities by funding public schools through a formula that encouraged schools to unnecessarily segregate students with disabilities to receive greater funding. The Department of Justice launched an investigation after the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint with the department charging the state of Georgia and the Georgia Department of Education with violating the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.

LGBTQ Rights

Date Filed

January 28, 2011

Desiree Shelton and Sarah Lindstrom were both selected by their classmates as "royalty" for the Snow Days winter events at Champlin Park High School. In an effort to prevent them from walking in the royal procession together as a same-sex couple, the school told Shelton and Lindstrom that it was altering the royal processional. Less than 24 hours after filing a federal lawsuit on behalf of the couple, the SPLC reached a settlement agreement with school officials that would allow the women to walk together in the processional.

Criminal Justice Reform
Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

June 02, 2011

Georgia in 2011 enacted a law authorizing police to demand "papers" demonstrating citizenship or immigration status during traffic stops, criminalizes Georgians who interact with undocumented individuals, and makes it unjustifiably difficult for individuals without specific identification documents to access state facilities and services. The SPLC joined a group of organizations in filing a class action lawsuit challenging the law on constitutional grounds.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

September 08, 2010

Public schools in Jackson, Miss., often failed to provide students with disabilities the services mandated by federal law and needed for these students to succeed in the classroom. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a formal complaint on behalf of these students with the Mississippi Department of Education, which found the district had violated major components of the federal law that ensures students with disabilities receive a free and appropriate public education.

Immigrant Justice

Date Filed

August 23, 2010

Angel Francisco Castro-Torres was riding his bicycle in Smyrna, Ga., when he was stopped by two Cobb County police officers. According to their own report, the officers stopped him after observing his race. The officers demanded Castro’s identification and questioned his immigration status. He was also beaten – resulting in a broken nose and eye socket – and arrested. He required surgery to repair the damage to this eye. A settlement agreement was reached nearly nine months after the lawsuit was filed.

Children's Rights

Date Filed

July 08, 2010

Children at Sarah T. Reed Elementary School in New Orleans were subjected to unlawful arrest and excessive force – including handcuffing and shackling – for minor violations of school rules. The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal class action lawsuit on behalf of a first-grade student handcuffed and shackled to a chair by an armed security officer after the student argued with another youth. A settlement agreement resulted in the school district prohibiting the use of fixed restraints and limiting the use of handcuffs.

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