TALLAHASSEE, FL – Today, the ACLU of Florida sent a letter to state attorneys and sheriffs across the state demanding they ensure police officers are protecting Floridians’ First Amendment rights and condemn the use of excessive police force captured in several videos from different cities across the state.
The letter demands that all Florida state attorneys and sheriffs immediately temporarily suspend and open an investigation into all of the officers involved in inflicting violence, those enabling violence by spraying tear gas at protesters, and those who failed to come to the side of individuals harmed by their fellow officers. It requests the release of these officers’ names to the public and demands plans to hold specific officers accountable.
From the letter:
"It is inconceivable to the American public that not even a week after the country witnessed police officers brutally and forcibly kneeling on the neck of George Floyd and suffocating the life out of him, and fellow police officers standing by doing nothing to protect George Floyd from the violence perpetrated upon him by their colleague, that we see these same tactics being used by Florida law enforcement against Black men and women and children.
“There are numerous other instances of horrific and callous police violence toward protesters. State actors need to protect people engaging in their first amendment rights. Unfortunately, there have been too many instances this past week of Florida’s law enforcement doing the exact opposite: using excessive and unnecessary force against protesters through numerous tactics, including tear gassing, shoving, punching, shooting rubber bullets, arresting protesters and threatening arrest, and forcibly preventing videotaping.”
The letter then goes on to urge state attorneys to drop charges against non-violent protesters and ensure no or low monetary bails, demand sheriffs stop arresting protestors and using excessive and unnecessary force. It ends with calling in these elected officials to keep protesters safe and uphold constitutional rights with suggested practices.
A copy of the full letter is available here: https://www.aclufl.org/en/aclu-florida-letter-state-attorneys-and-sherif...