The American Civil Liberties Union of Nebraska had to step in and warn police in Scottsbluff, Nebraska that officers cannot order protesters off public sidewalks, even if they disagree with the message.
The protestors have a permit to demonstrate in the Northwood Park in Scottsbluff, but when they tried to take their message to a wider audience by standing with signs on the adjoining sidewalk, they were threatened with arrest, according to a report by KOTA News.
Group organizer Tessa Armstrong says she told officers she had a constitutional right to protest on public grounds, but the officer threatened to arrest her and told her city ordinance overrules the Constitution.
Armstrong says her group was following ordinance, and that they were being targeted because of their message.
She adds, “I honestly believe it is because they disagree with what we are doing here today. It has nothing to do with following city ordinance or anything.”
In response, ACLU Nebraska sent a letter to Scottsbluff police and the county attorney advising them of protesters’ rights and has requested the police and county attorney take immediate action to protect the free speech rights of the demonstrators.