ACLU of Georgia Disappointed the State to Spend $5 Million Tax Dollars on Fencing to Stifle Free Speech

Affiliate: ACLU of Georgia
October 9, 2020 3:00 pm

ACLU Affiliate
ACLU of Georgia
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ATLANTA – On October 6th, it was reported that a new 8-foot fence will surround the Georgia State Capitol, the Governor’s Mansion in Buckhead and Georgia State Patrol headquarters. The state plans to spend $5 million on security upgrades at these state buildings.

“I am deeply disappointed that given the needs of all Georgians across the state due to the COVID pandemic, the State is choosing to spend resident’s tax dollars on fencing,” said Andrea Young, Executive Director of the ACLU of Georgia. “There has been a disturbing pattern of legislators stifling free speech at the very seat of democracy, where the people’s voices should be heard.”

The First Amendment right to join with fellow citizens in protest is the foundation to a functioning and vibrant democracy. This is a deeply troubling response to the protests that occurred this summer in response to the killing of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement. Instead of working meaningfully to address the grave problems within our modern day policing system, the State of Georgia has decided to place an 8-foot spiked fence to surround one of the sites of these protests: the State Capitol.

Georgians have many needs due to the COVID pandemic. Schools, prisons and other public facilities require resources to provide social distancing, sanitation, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The digital divide impacts student learning across our state. There are insufficient resources for Black and Brown Georgians, citizens who are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

This move by the State is insensitive at best and potentially harmfully to Georgian’s First Amendment rights. The ACLU of Georgia will continue to monitor this situation to ensure the right to non-violent protest at the State Capitol is not infringed upon in any way.

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