De-Bug’s Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project is proud to announce that Gail Noble has been given the Patriot Award by the Bill or Rights Defense Committee (BORDC) — a national non-profit grassroots organization based in Washington DC. The BORDC’s mission defends the rule of law and rights and liberties challenged by overbroad national security and counter-terrorism policies. Below is the biography they did on Gail that they shared on their site and in their newsletter. Gail has been an endless source of inspiration for us here in the De-Bug community, and that is why we are so pleased to know others can hear of her story and her efforts in the name of justice! check out the article on her!
Each month, BORDC recognizes an individual who has done outstanding work in support of civil liberties and the rule of law by honoring that person with our Patriot Award. This month, we recognize Gail Noble from San Jose, CA, for her work to restore justice to the broken criminal justice system.
Gail assists families and individuals in San Jose, CA, contending with our nation’s flawed justice system through her work with Silicon Valley De-Bug and the Albert Cobarrubias Justice Project (ACJP), a legal advocacy group she helped to establish.
She grew up in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia as the painful and incomplete work of desegregation was underway. She recalls her surprise, after moving with her family to Palo Alto in 1963, at sharing a school with white students. In the late 1960s, she was involved in sit-ins, walk-outs, and other civil actions to protest the quality of schools and the failure of school curricula to acknowledge the heritage of any students whose ancestors were not European—even where “minority” students were in fact the majority.
Gail’s staunch advocacy came to fruition in her role as the mother of seven children. The issues that concerned her as a student continued to confront her kids, who inherited a school system in many ways as flawed as the one she had endured. She did what she could to get her children into good schools, and then worked—for her kids and other students—to ensure the schools provided a good education. Gail and her children moved to San Jose in 2000.
Beginning in the eighth grade, Gail’s son Karim began to receive unwarranted attention from school officials. In a series of incidents, Karim was presumed guilty of misdeeds despite witnesses and evidence indicating his innocence. As a result, he spent time in juvenile detention.
Karim was eventually charged for breaking a man’s finger in connection with the theft of a bicycle. The circumstances were suspicious, and he was presumed guilty simply because of his proximity to the incident.
The case was badly handled and reflected potential racial bias on the part of the judge, who ruled against Karim without a jury. But two good things came out of this spurious series of events: one, the judge in question is no longer working juvenile cases; and two, Gail connected with Silicon Valley De-Bug, a community advocacy organization in San Jose using art, media, and grassroots organizing to raise awareness of systemic injustice in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. Through De-Bug, she met with concerned community members and sympathetic lawyers.
“Standing up to the system had an effect. You know right from wrong, and what they were doing to my son was wrong,” Gail says.
Through her often frustrating personal dealings with the criminal justice system, Gail saw a chance to help others in similar positions. With De-Bug, she helped co-found the ACJP to help those who, like her and her son, are often at the mercy of a damaged system. “De-Bug and ACJP have brought so much out of me that I didn’t know was there,” she says.
The ACJP, which holds regular meetings and provides legal counseling, has grown dramatically through word of mouth. Gail works tirelessly to make sure that victims of profiling know their rights, and that they feel empowered when facing legal issues. It is for her work in the struggle to guarantee basic rights, and for turning her and her son’s troubles into a positive resource for her community, that we are proud to honor Gail Noble with our Patriot Award.
“It will take all of us to make a difference,” she says. We agree and salute Gail for her dedication and initiative.