NEW ORLEANS – The American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana today warned state and local law enforcement agencies to respect the First Amendment rights of demonstrators protesting the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Ahead of tomorrow’s rallies and vigils, the organization reminded state and local officials to abide by the terms of a 2016 agreement under which law enforcement pledged to respect people’s rights to peaceful demonstration, minimize use of force, and limit arrests.  

“The protests in Minnesota and across the country are a direct response to the systemic violence and racial terror that police have perpetrated in Black communities for centuries,” said Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director. “Just weeks from the anniversary of Alton Sterling’s brutal killing at the hands of Baton Rouge police, the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd as he desperately cried for help is a reminder of the deadly toll that systemic racism takes on our communities each and every day. These officers must be held accountable – but much more than that, every one of us has an obligation to address the deeply-rooted racism that pervades our institutions and poisons our society. As we stand in solidarity with all those mourning and demonstrating against George Floyd’s murder, we remind state and local law enforcement of the commitment they made to respect protesters’ First Amendment rights and avoid excessive or militarized responses to peaceful protest activity.” 

In 2016, Louisiana and Baton Rouge law enforcement agencies agreed to settle a civil rights lawsuit brought in response to violent and aggressive policing of protests following the murder of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge. Under the Memorandum of Understanding signed by law enforcement and civil rights advocates, law enforcement agreed to recognize the rights of all people to assemble for the purpose of peaceful public discourse and protest.