HOUSTON — The ACLU of Texas today called for immediate action to protect individual safety and free speech rights during protests over the police murder of George Floyd, in a letter sent to local leaders. The letter asks mayors, city council members, police chiefs, district attorneys, county judges, and county commissioners to safeguard constitutional rights during the protests that continue across the state.
“Local leadership has never been more important in protecting our rights to free speech and assembly,” said Sarah Labowitz, policy & advocacy director for the ACLU of Texas. “As people exercise their power to protest, we’re calling on local leaders to meet with protesters, listen to their demands, and commit to the difficult but necessary work of dismantling racism.”
The letter highlights 10 principles for local leaders to uphold in order to protect Constitutional rights in this moment:
- Champion freedom of assembly and expression
- Protect public health
- De-escalate conflict
- Don’t use rubber bullets, bean bags, stun grenades, tear gars, and other weapons aimed at crowds
- Don’t impose over-broad curfews
- Focus police resources on protecting public safety, not arrests
- Protect the vital role of the media
- Avoid further militarization of protest events
- Hold officers accountable if they violate the law
- Commit to long-form reforms toward community-based policing
The letter was sent to the following Texas cities: Austin, Brownsville, Carrollton, Dallas, Denton, El Paso, Ft. Worth, Highland Park, Houston, Irving, Lewisville, McAllen, McKinney, Plano, San Antonio, and University Park.