Library Art Exhibit Honors Ordinary New Yorkers

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Oct. 23, 2007 (NEW YORK) -- Deborah Karpatkin, `80, a New York Civil Liberties Union board member and cooperating attorney, introduced an ongoing exhibit honoring NYCLU clients at Arthur W. Diamond Law Library on Oct. 22 on behalf of the Social Justice Initiatives. The exhibit was created by Donald Parker, a retired Nassau County school teacher and board member of the NYCLU’s Nassau chapter.
“The exhibit honors ordinary New Yorkers who were very brave in that they stepped forward to protest their civil liberties being violated,” Karpatkin said.
Karpatkin highlighted two of the 22 cases featured in the exhibit. The first involved Karema Atassi, a Muslim-American woman who, along with her family, was detained by U.S. border officials as she was returning to New York from an Islamic academic conference in Toronto in December 2004.
“They were segregated, frisked, searched and detained for six hours,” Karpatkin said. “All this, because the government said that there was a possibility that some Muslim conference — not necessarily this one, but some unspecified conference — might be serving as a meeting point for terrorists.”
In April 2005, the NYCLU filed a suit against the Department of Homeland Security arguing that the plaintiffs’ rights under the first and fourth amendments of the Constitution were violated. In December 2005, the district court ruled against the plaintiffs. The NYCLU is appealing the decision.
Karpatkin also discussed a case that she tried successfully. She represented Sgt. Corey Martin, stationed at Fort Drum, who beginning in December 2005 sought conscientious objector status when his unit was set to deploy to Afghanistan. At first, the Army decided not to deploy Martin, but then reversed itself for what the NYCLU alleged were punitive measures. “By then, a lot of his fellow soldiers from his unit who were already in Afghanistan were sending him threats about how they’d get him when he came over,” Karpatkin said.
Acting on a NYCLU law suit, a federal district court intervened to prevent Martin’s deployment as his conscientious objector application went through the ranks. In May, the application was granted and Martin received an honorable discharge.
These are just two of the stories involving ordinary New Yorkers who demonstrated extraordinary courage, Karpatkin said.
The exhibit will be displayed at the Diamond Law Library until Friday, Oct. 26, and will then move to Butler Library.