MONTGOMERY, Ala. -- Over the weekend, people gathered across the state to protest police violence against Black people and demand justice for the many victims of police violence.

ACLU of Alabama said:

“We support protesters in Alabama and across the nation who are expressing their grief at the senseless deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and all of the many Black men, women, and children who have been killed at the hands of police. We stand with those who are demanding justice from a system that has both historically abused and too often abuses Black communities to this day. Black people should not live in fear of being shot and killed by the police. 

These times of unrest compel us to examine what will make our communities safer and more equitable. Police, sheriffs, and other government officials have discretion in how they use their time and resources. Now is the time to question how they use that discretion around the role that law enforcement possesses in our communities, especially given the disproportionate harm inflicted upon communities of color, particularly Black communities, caused by enhanced militarization of law enforcement in this country. We cannot effectively address police violence   without completely reimagining the role of police.  We must significantly reduce the responsibilities and presence of police in the everyday lives of people in heavily policed communities. We will not rest until there is an end to racist policing.

The ACLU’s commitment to ending racist and violent policing goes back decades, from confronting the police violence that fueled protests in Los Angeles, Detroit, and Newark in the 1960s, through Ferguson. Sadly, those efforts  have not worked. We must do more.

Rather than spend taxpayer dollars on enforcing restrictions on the constitutionally protected right to protests, police and government officials should focus on seeking justice and holding themselves accountable to the people they are supposed to protect and serve.

This is why the right to protest is so sacrosanct, and the ACLU of Alabama has defended this right time and time again. When our government not only fails our people, but also does not rectify its mistakes by holding itself accountable, we will speak up. When our government either ignores cries for help or worse, encourages further harm as was the case with the President last week, we will defend the people left with no choice but to take to the streets to make themselves heard. The Constitution both anticipates and protects this fundamental right to protest the actions of our government. We will continue the fight to ensure that our Government respects these fundamental Constitutional principles.”