Police across the nation have responded with violence and militarization to ongoing protests against the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police.
In North Carolina, protests have taken place throughout the state, with demonstrators and police clashing in Raleigh, Fayetteville and Charlotte. The ACLU of North Carolina is responding. Below is the statement the organization released today:
“The protests and uprisings happening here in North Carolina and across the country are a direct response to the cold-blooded murder of George Floyd, and the epidemic of police violence and brutality that has victimized Black communities for centuries.
The violent and militarized tactics we saw deployed by state and local law enforcement over the weekend were a dangerous affront to First Amendment rights that inflamed tensions and endangered the lives and well-being of protesters and journalists. Tear gas, rubber bullets, and military-grade equipment are weapons of war that have no place on our city streets and serve only to compound the suffering and grief gripping our Black and Brown communities.
State and local law enforcement agencies must immediately begin respecting the constitutional rights of demonstrators, including halting the use of excessive force, suspending the use of militarized equipment, and ensuring safe spaces for people to express their demands for justice.
Curfews also raise serious constitutional concerns by broadly infringing on the rights of peaceful demonstrators, and serving as a pretext for biased arrests. By making presence on public streets anywhere in the city unlawful, these measures will lead to selective enforcement against people of color, and risk harassment of people who are unhoused. Any such restriction must clearly communicate to the public when and where it will apply, articulate valid justifications for the restrictions, and provide ample alternative locations where people may gather to express their views on the important issues.
Combined with the aggressive show of military force and the troubling accounts of excessive force by the police, curfews repeat the violence and brutality at the root of the protests.
Above all, our elected officials must begin to confront and address the systemic racism and injustice that pervades our society and our institutions. The pain and anguish that is spilling out onto our streets is a result of our country’s repeated failure to address the institutionalized racism and injustice that has claimed countless Black lives. Without justice, there will not be peace. We will continue to stand with our fellow North Carolinians against white supremacy and police violence.”