The following statement can be attributed to ACLU-NM Executive Director Peter Simonson:
“Throughout its history, the ACLU has been a fierce defender of the First Amendment right to free speech and has often stood in defense of the free speech rights of groups whose ideas it opposes. Our commitment to the First Amendment is unabated and we will continue to defend free speech, even when that speech is controversial. However, the recent surge of white nationalism and white supremacy and the events in Charlottesville, VA have prompted us to reflect on how we choose to spend our limited legal resources.
The white nationalist groups that assembled in Charlottesville have made clear with word and deed that their aim is not merely to express a political viewpoint, but also to use intimidation and terror to smother the voices of communities that historically have been oppressed. Although these groups cloak themselves in the rhetoric of free speech, the protections granted by the First Amendment never were meant to be a sword for those who act with malice or a shield to protect those who seek to inflict harm. The ACLU of New Mexico will not devote its resources to defending people who use violence to advocate their beliefs.
Furthermore, the ACLU of New Mexico remains committed to combatting white supremacy and institutional racism in all areas of our work. We will continue fighting against biased and militarized policing, a criminal justice system that unfairly targets communities of color, and an immigration enforcement system that tears hard-working families apart. We believe in a diverse and vibrant New Mexico where all of our communities are treated with dignity, respect, and equal justice under the law.”