ACLU Remembers Michael Camfield
This week, the ACLU of Oklahoma lost a former co-worker, great advocate, and dear friend Michael Sky Camfield. Michael worked for the ACLU of Oklahoma from 1993-2009. For much of that time, Michael was half of the two member staff along with former Exceutive Director Joann Bell. During his time at the ACLU he was a powerful advocate for many Oklahomans.
Michael began working for the ACLU of Oklahoma in 1993. While he served many roles, the majority of his energy was devoted to finding unique ways to grow the membership and to develop an impressive and consistent fundraising base.
In 1997, an Oklahoma resident complained that the academy award-winning German movie The Tin Drum contained child pornography and therefore violated Oklahoma law. After a local judge viewed the movie and agreed with the complainant, the police subsequently went to neighborhood video stores and removed all copies of The Tin Drum, and obtained, without a warrant, the names of those who were currently renting it. One copy had been rented by Michael who got wind of the impending seizure and wanted to see if the movie was really objectionable. Police came to Michael’s house and asked for the cassette, which he handed over after some discussion of “the artistic merits of the movie.”
The ACLU of Oklahoma filed suit, and the court found that the city violated Michael’s rights by obtaining his rental records without a court order or warrant. The court awarded Michael the statutory minimum of $2500, but more importantly, a victory for civil liberties.
Michael will be missed. He believed passionately in the mission of the ACLU and committed himself to ensure civil liberties are celebrated and respected in Oklahoma. The ACLU of Oklahoma and civil libertarians across the state will forever be grateful for his service.
Remarks from former Executive Director Joann Bell
Michael “Sky” Camfield was a very unique individual. He was born in Belleville,Illinois but grew up in Harrah,Oklahoma. He was a graduate of Harrah High School and Oklahoma CityUniversity.
I knew Michael when he was ‘just Michael” – without the SKY nick-name. We became friends in 1982. In 1993, Michael came to work for the ACLU of Oklahoma. For many years, just the two of us worked there. He handled the Development work as well as Education and he’d do anything else that needed to be done. When we purchased the current ACLU Oklahoma office building, Michael stayed up all night moving heavy file cabinets on a hand-cart, around the corner, from our old office to the new. We had some wonderful years, defending Civil Liberties and had a lot of fun doing it.
As a successful plaintiff in the ACLU case to defend the “Tin Drum”, he became internationally known. For many years Michael was in charge of directing “The Follies” at the National ACLU Biennial Conferences – and they were wonderful. His musical talents included song-writing, singing and playing several types of musical instruments. He performed all overOklahoma City.
Michael could do just about anything he set his mind to do. In middle school, he played football. When he got the ball, no one could catch him. After a couple of years, he decided, much to the dismay of the coaches, that he had no desire to play football and no amount of begging or demanding by the coaches could change his mind. This is probably a memory of Michael that not many will know about. He concentrated on his studies and graduated as valedictorian of his high school class. I used to tell Michael he would be a rich man if he would go on “Jeopardy” or “How to Be a Millionaire” because he knew so much about so many subjects – from ancient art history to pop culture.
Michael loved everything the ACLU stands for and he especially subscribed to the “Molly Ivins” idea of defending Civil Liberties and having a ball while doing it.
Michael is survived by his mother, Mary Camfield, of Harrah; his sister Lisa Camfield; a niece Lainy Camfield and several aunts, uncles and cousins. A host of friends will greatly miss him.
Peace to you, My Friend Michael.
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