The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) will no longer defend groups that insist on marching with firearms, following violent gatherings of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend.
“If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”
—Anthony Romero, ACLU
“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief, and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s long-serving executive director, told the Wall Street Journal Thursday evening.
“If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else,” he also said, noting that the new policy aligns with a position adopted by the ACLU’s national board in 2015 to support “reasonable” firearm regulations.
After one counter-protester was killed and dozens more were injured in the demonstrations on Saturday, the ACLU was criticized for defending in federal court the white supremacists’ constitutional rights.
Citing safety concerns, the city had tried to move Saturday’s “United the Right” rally to a park a mile away from Charlottesville’s Emancipation Park, where the white supremacists planned to protest the city’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
The ACLU and the Rutherford Institute successfully argued that Charlottesville was “discriminating against protesters who espouse highly controversial views and blocking their access to a historic downtown park while allowing counterdemonstrators access to parks in the vicinity,” and the rally was allowed to continue as planned (until a state of emergency was declared on Saturday).
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