Chang et al v. County of Siskiyou and Sheriff Jeremiah LaRue
In May of 2021, the Siskiyou County Board of Supervisors passed racially motivated ordinances to cut off water to the county’s Hmong residents. The county failed to provide a sufficient rationale for enacting the ordinances or for their discriminatory targeting of Hmong people.
In August of 2021, the ACLU of Northern California and Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus filed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit against the water ordinances. And in September, a judge issued a temporary injunction against two of the ordinances.
But the water ordinances are just one part of the county’s efforts to make Hmong and Asian residents of Siskiyou County feel unsafe and unwelcome. Hmong people, who have built lives and communities in Siskiyou County, are subjected to racism by the county sheriff and board of supervisors. Based on the available data, over 28 percent of traffic stops conducted by the sheriff’s department in 2021 were of Asian drivers, although Asian and Pacific Islanders made up only 2.4 percent of Siskiyou County’s voting-age population in the most recent Census. These numbers mean that Asian American drivers were pulled over at a rate nearly 12 times what would be expected given their proportion of the driving-aged population.
In August of 2022, the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, Asian Americans Advancing Justice - Asian Law Caucus, and Covington & Burling LLP brought a class action lawsuit on behalf of four Asian American community members detailing how county officials have waged a systematic campaign of racist hostility and persecution, including restricting Asian Americans’ right to water and executing unlawful traffic stops, search and seizure practices, and property liens that are blatantly aimed at Asian Americans.
The complaint seeks to hold Siskiyou officials accountable for their systematic racial targeting and for the violation of Asian Americans’ U.S. and California constitutional rights, including an order prohibiting Siskiyou County and Sheriff LaRue from engaging in race, color, and ethnicity-based discrimination with safeguards to ensure that such discrimination does not continue in the future.