Media Contact

May 1, 2024

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – Today, following disturbing reports that New Mexico State Police and University of New Mexico (UNM) Police used teargas and arrested protestors on UNM’s campus, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico warned university leaders and law enforcement that students have constitutionally protected rights to peaceful protest, expression, and speech on public campuses— even speech that some may find controversial or offensive. 

The following statement can be attributed to Peter Simonson, ACLU-NM Executive Director:  

“Students have the constitutional right to peacefully protest, speak, and express their opinions. The New Mexico Constitution extends even greater protections in this regard than the U.S. Constitution. Protest is a pillar of democracy and a fundamental freedom that has shaped the history of our nation. We call on New Mexico’s college and university leaders and police to respect students’ rights to publicly advocate for causes they believe in. The ACLU of New Mexico is closely monitoring the situation.  

To be clear, not every form of speech is protected everywhere. However, we are disturbed by the recordings of this week’s arrests on UNM’s campus and will be investigating. Armed police in riot gear have no place at a peaceful campus protest. Arresting peaceful protestors does not make anyone safer. We urge university leaders to remain flexible and give students space to express their views given the volatility of this moment.” 

If students believe campus administrators or law enforcement have violated their rights, ACLU-NM encourages them to submit a complaint on our website. Know-your-rights information for protesting on campus is here.