04 Jun FIRST AMENDMENT RESTRICTIONS ARE NOT THE ANSWER
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 3, 2020
CONTACT: Will Pregman, firstname.lastname@example.org, 702.752.0656
FIRST AMENDMENT RESTRICTIONS ARE NOT THE ANSWER
Statement regarding Nevada localities’ attempts to restrict protesters’ First Amendment rights and presence of ICE during protests
NEVADA – Following recent actions by various local jurisdictions in Nevada to restrict the First Amendment rights of protesters, Battle Born Progress Executive Director, Annette Magnus released the following statement:
“The protests are about police brutality and systemic racism happening each day in this state. Those two issues are what the Clark County Commission, the City of Las Vegas, and the City of Reno should be addressing today in our fight to support communities of color – not backpacks or curfews.
I was at the protest in Las Vegas on Saturday. I stood between the police and others as people peacefully exercised their First Amendment rights and were met with an aggressive response from police. I have a video of this. There is no shortage of footage from Nevadans showing that aggressive policing is creating an unsafe environment for people to exercise their free speech.
I wore a backpack to the protest. It held first aid kits, extra PPE, milk to defend from Metro’s liberal use of tear gas, small blankets to shield against pepper spray, and water. These items are essential to the health and safety of myself and others with me. The bans on backpacks discussed and passed today would prevent me and others from carrying these necessary supplies.
It is our First Amendment right to protest. Restrictions like these do nothing but encourage more interactions with the police that Black and Brown folks already DO NOT trust. The presence of ICE (Immigration Customs & Enforcement) at some protests around the county are only contributing to an already tense and distrustful climate.
Law enforcement has never and will never come at me or my backpack because I am a white woman, but those other protestors I stood in front of don’t enjoy the same privilege.
Just over a month ago, armed, mostly white militiamen took to the Grant Sawyer building without a protest permit to advocate for the reopening of Nevada. They were not met with tear gas, rubber bullets, arrests, or any significant police presence at all. The disproportionate response to peaceful, unarmed protests led by Black people speaks volumes.
Last night, in the City of Reno, an indefinite curfew was implemented that infringes upon the rights of residents and increases interactions between police and people of color. Today the order was partially lifted despite no known threats or continued unrest.
Much like southern Nevada, spring saw protests against the COVID-19 restrictions featuring white men with guns. At no time during these protests was a curfew instituted. Leaders within our community need to focus their efforts on reform and solutions. Instead of looking at curfews and backpacks, our leaders should be finding ways to eliminate excessive police use of force by our various law enforcement agencies and address the systemic injustices faced by Black and Brown communities daily in this community.
We need all of our elected officials, from Governor Sisolak, to our State, County, and City representatives, to ensure that all Nevadans, regardless of race or naturalization status, are able to practice their First Amendment rights FREELY, safely, and without arbitrary restriction. The focus must not be on attempting to quell free speech, but to end the police violence that inspires these public demonstrations”
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