FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
DATE: Thursday, October 19, 2006
CONTACT: Whitney Potter, Communications Manager, ACLU-NM
PHONE: (505) 266-5915 ext. 1003 or (505) 507-9898 CellAlbuquerque, NM—U.S. District Court Judge William P. Johnson ruled that the city of Albuquerque may not discipline local police and firefighters for participating in an annual charity boxing event this weekend. Judge Johnson deemed the threats and actions by Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez to reprimand or terminate officers for participating in the event violated their constitutional rights.
“The ruling strongly affirms the free speech rights of government employees when they are off duty,” said Peter Simonson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico. “The firefighters and police of our community can freely participate in this weekend’s fundraiser for needy children.”
The ACLU of New Mexico sought an injunction in U.S. District Court on behalf of two Albuquerque Firefighters involved in the event.
A preliminary injunction was issued from the bench on October 17, 2006. The city is banned from disciplining, and/or threatening to discipline, any employee of the Albuquerque Police or Fire Departments because of that employee’s participation in the “Rumble in Rio” charity boxing event to be held at the Santa Ana Star Casino on October 21, 2006.
“These employees have dedicated hours and hours of their time to this worth cause. We were proud to be able to help vindicate their right to contribute to the community,” said ACLU-NM cooperating attorney Jennifer Wernersbach.
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