FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
BATON ROUGE, La. — In November 2016, after a series of unconstitutional law enforcement reactions to protest over the death of Alton Sterling in Baton Rouge, law enforcement entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with five organizations that filed suit regarding the treatment of peaceful protesters.
The Baton Rouge Police Department, East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office, the Louisiana State Police, and the City of Baton entered into an agreement, filed in court records, guaranteeing their commitment to the First Amendment rights of everyone, a commitment to use only the level of force objectively reasonable to bring an incident under control and only arrest those who they have reasonable belief to have violated the law, and commit to de-escalation. A copy of the Memorandum of Understanding is attached.
Ada Goodly, a Baton Rouge activist and co-coordinator of the legal support team with the National Lawyers Guild said “The residents of Baton Rouge call on all law enforcement agencies to abide by the Memorandum of Understanding and the restraint agreed to by them last summer so communities feel safe engaging in First Amendment-protected activities. While the city is wrought with uncertainty, many groups have organized to call for the termination of Officers Blane Salamoni and Howie Lake II, and demand transparency in the coming investigation, beginning with the appointment of an Independent Special Prosecutor to pursue state charges against the officers.” “As the community continues to mourn the killing of Alton Sterling and anticipates the report on the circumstances of his death, we encourage law enforcement to remember the commitments set out in this agreement,” said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. The Baton Rouge community needs healing, and honoring the rights of everyone in the community will aid in that process.”
The five organizations that sued are as follows: North Baton Rouge Matters (NBRM); BYP100-New Orleans; New Orleans Workers’ Center for Racial Justice (NOWCRJ); The Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers’ Guild (LA-NLG); and The ACLU of Louisiana. Those organizations are parties to the agreement with Baton Rouge law enforcement.
Anyone who witnesses arrests of demonstrators is encouraged to call the Baton Rouge Legal Hotline number operated by the Louisiana Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild at 225-217-3830.