BATON ROUGE — The ACLU of Louisiana released the following statement applauding Governor John Bel Edwards’ veto of House Bill 85, an unconstitutional bill that would have made it a crime to be within 25 feet of law enforcement engaged in official duties when ordered by officers to stay away.
“House Bill 85 was a significant government overstep that would have interfered with people’s ability to exercise their First Amendment rights and, ultimately, their ability to hold law enforcement accountable.
People have a constitutional right to move freely and observe public officials while doing their jobs. It’s no secret that in recent years, bystander accounts and video footage have been the most powerful evidence of widespread police misconduct. Observations of law enforcement are invaluable in promoting police accountability.
In addition to chilling the free speech of citizens and journalists seeking to monitor or document interactions between police and the public, HB 85 was unconstitutionally vague in conveying when and how police could enforce the law, and how the public could avoid breaking the law.
We applaud Governor Edwards for vetoing HB 85 and protecting our First Amendment rights to observe and record police - a critical check and balance between community members and law enforcement.”
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