Police Violence Tramples First Amendment Rights
LAS VEGAS–The ACLU of Nevada has been monitoring the protests happening in Las Vegas as events unfold. The following statement can be attributed to ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Sherrie Royster:
“The protests happening all over the country are an outpouring of rage and grief at the endless, relentless examples of unarmed Black people being brutalized and murdered at the hands of police. George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks are just the latest deaths in a long history. These are just recent examples of police violence; dozens of people are killed by police each year in our community.
“The ACLU of Nevada is united in solidarity with protestors across the country demanding an end to violent, racist policing. It is outrageous that protests demanding justice for police brutality are being met with police brutality. Here in Las Vegas, instead of de-escalating tense situations, police are shooting pepper balls indiscriminately into peaceful crowds and using chemical weapons such as tear gas to disperse protesters. On June 1, a protester was fatally shot by police and the officers weren’t wearing body cameras. These aggressive tactics are shameful and dangerously escalate these situations, putting protesters, journalists, bystanders, and the police themselves at great risk of injury and death. It is also irresponsible to use chemical irritants that affect the respiratory system and cause fits of coughing during a highly contagious and lethal pandemic.
“Metro police have arrested peaceful protesters, neutral legal observers, and journalists. They give arbitrary and random orders to disperse, allowing crowds only minutes to comply before police start to detain demonstrators. We are alarmed at the continued militarization of Las Vegas police. Peaceful protesters at several events have encountered armored vehicles and officers in military gear and have also been subjected to surveillance. The responsibility for ensuring protests remain peaceful does not belong to demonstrators alone; it belongs to the police as well.
“Pepper balls, gas, and arrests should not be taken lightly when used against protestors exercising their First Amendment rights. What we have seen over the past weeks is officers using these tactics as a quick way to wrap up when they decide the protests should end. It is troubling to watch officers take such an inhumane approach against those they have sworn to protect. We at the ACLU of Nevada will not stand idly by while the civil rights of these protesters continue to be violated.
“Now is the time for action and accountability. We call on our community members to share their stories and videos of police interactions at recent protests with the ACLU of Nevada at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are committed to working with lawmakers and stakeholders from all communities, in every corner of our state, to create and reform systems and policies that tear down the systemic and structural racism that is tearing our country apart.”
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