NYCLU Statement on Demonstrations During Pandemic

Affiliate: ACLU of New York
May 7, 2020 2:45 pm

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NEW YORK – The New York Police Department issued summons to protesters outside a Manhattan hospital on Sunday. In response, the New York Civil Liberties Union issued the following statement from Executive Director Donna Lieberman:

“People across New York have gathered outside in recent weeks for myriad reasons without facing punishment from law enforcement. Health experts, elected officials, and police officers all agree that people can be outside safely while practicing social distancing; there is no reason why demonstrations are any different.

“The protesters punished by the New York Police Department were practicing social distancing and wearing masks, in compliance with the executive orders from the governor and mayor. They were nevertheless singled out for exercising their right to protest. The Executive Order does not give the NYPD unfettered — and unconstitutional — discretion to ban all protest activity even when it comports with public health guidelines for social distancing.

“The right to protest is a bedrock of our nation’s principles, and it is never more important than in times of crisis. The government may not needlessly restrict protest activity that is in compliance with important public health guidelines.”

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