Bery is an experienced civil rights advocate who served at the ACLU of Northern California as San Jose director and as a field organizer from 2002 to 2007. Bery brought together diverse constituencies to make policy reforms possible.
For several years, high school students in Los Altos, California, had asked the City Council to declare a gay pride day. In response, the City Council passed a rule barring itself from even considering such requests. This policy singled out gay and lesbian students in a discriminatory manner.
Bery worked with community leaders, business owners, and ACLU colleagues to successfully reverse the City Council’s position.
“…more than 50 local business owners petitioned the council to end the ’embarrassing’ rule, which they said was bad for business and the city’s reputation … ‘We were happy to assist a diverse coalition of residents who sought to have the city council change its discriminatory rule,’ said Sunjeev Bery, director of the ACLU San Jose office. ‘A combination of public education, business owner participation and heartfelt stories from citizens affected by the ban helped the council realize its mistake. All the work the residents put into reaching this political solution really paid off.'”
Patriot Act and Post-9/11 Surveillance
Bery worked with civil rights voices across Northern California to secure 50+ city council and county government resolutions endorsing Patriot Act reforms. The resolutions also opposed the targeting of South Asian, Arab, and Muslim communities.
- “Oakland tackles USA Patriot Act / City plans to announce it won’t compromise civil liberties,” San Francisco Chronicle.
- “Sacramento Goes On Record Opposing The USA Patriot Act Joining 211 Communities Across The Country,” ACLU.
- “Oakland Becomes 19th U.S. City To Pass Resolution Against Anti-Civil Liberties Measures,” ACLU.
Bery worked closely with immigrant rights advocates in California to build opposition to the CLEAR Act, a bill in Congress that would have required local law enforcement to enforce federal immigration law. State law enforcement leaders opposed the legislation because undocumented community members would have become afraid to notify the police of criminal activity.
- “Huge Crowds March For Immigration Reform,” San Francisco Chronicle.
“Every footstep, every chant, every flag, they can see and hear us,” said Sunjeev Bery of the American Civil Liberties Union. “The entire debate in D.C. is changing because of us.”
As San Jose director for the ACLU of Northern California, Bery worked with ACLU experts and a coalition of local groups to advance stronger police use-of-force policies.
- “SAN JOSE / Groups press council for stun gun guidelines,” San Francisco Chronicle.
“Sunjeev Bery, director of the San Jose office of the ACLU, said police already had guidelines for many types of force and Tasers should not be an exception. ‘The San Jose Police Department has rules in place for everything from firearms to restraining belts,’ Bery said. ‘If restraining belts are deserving of regulations regarding their use, why not potentially lethal Tasers?'”