The American Civil Liberties Union on Wednesday identified the two people who will staff its new Bakersfield: a community engagement policy advocate who grew up in Weedpatch and a staff attorney from New York who has worked on immigrant and farmworkers' rights issues.
The famously liberal organization is expanding into Kern County from Southern California after having become involved in local cases dealing with deaths at the hands of law enforcement, federal raids at or near courthouses and allegations of improper use of checkpoints to impound immigrants' vehicles.
The policy advocate, Rosa Lopez, worked for the Peace Corps as a volunteer in the Dominican Republic and, later, for the statewide John Muir Charter Schools as a career pathway specialist. She graduated from Arvin High School before going on to earn a bachelor's degree in Latin American Latino Studies at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She hopes to earn a master's degree in public administration at Cal State Bakersfield.
Attorney Jordan Wells, a 2013 graduate of New York University’s School of Law, comes to Bakersfield having worked on staff at the New York Civil Liberties Union. His litigation work there included a case that sought to establish farmworkers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively, as well as a legal challenge to a practice by Long Island's sheriff of detaining immigrants for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
The ACLU said in a news release Wells will focus mainly on civil rights and civil liberties, "particularly those issues relating to immigrants’ rights and police practices."