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Ferguson: On the Ground

Diane Balogh,
ACLU of Eastern Missouri
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August 17, 2014

In the wake of the Michael Brown tragedy last week, the ACLU has been working diligently to shed light on what transpired, as well as preserve First Amendment Rights for the community and media.

Here’s how we are working on behalf of the community and people of Ferguson:

The ACLU of Missouri filed two Missouri Sunshine Law suits to receive copies of the incident reports from both theSt. Louis County and the Ferguson Police Departments. Both have refused to turn over the reports that should contain details regarding the shooting, and police transparency is key to a fair and just investigation.

On Thursday, we also challenged the police policy of ordering members of the media and public to stop recording the police acting in their official duty on public streets and sidewalks. This was resolved late Friday with an agreement between the involved parties that the media and members of the public have the right to record public events unless it obstructs the activities or threatens the safety of others, or physically interferes with the ability of law enforcement officers to perform their duties.

We’re working hard to protect First Amendment Rights on the ground as well, assembling volunteers to assist with legal observation at community gatherings and marches in Ferguson. They are also distributing “What to Do If You are Stopped by Police, Immigration or FBI Agents” cards, along with “Know Your Rights at a Protest” flyers at demonstrations. Citizens have been encouraged through social media to file an intake form with the ACLU, if they feel they have been victims of police overreach.

On Saturday, Gov. Jay Nixon declared a state of emergency and has put a curfew in place from midnight until 5 a.m.

Today, along with NAACP-LDF and the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights, we released the following statement about the civil liberties concerns surrounding the curfew, which is set to go into effect for a second night in a row. Read the letter here.

Sign our petition asking the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security and Justice to stop funneling billions into the militarization of state and local police forces.

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