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ACLU sues state police over barricades for protesters at execution site

Federal Death Penalty History Q&A
Posted at 11:21 AM, Aug 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-04 11:21:24-04

INDIANAPOLIS – The ACLU of Indiana filed a lawsuit Tuesday against the Indiana State Police, claiming barriers placed at the site of the federal executions in Terre Haute infringed on the First Amendment right to protest.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Death Penalty Action, Indiana Abolition Coalition and Providence of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods Indiana. The lawsuit states the barriers ISP placed at the site meant the protesters were forced to stay nearly two miles away from the entrance to the prison.

“These restrictions obstruct one of the most fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, political speech,” said Ken Falk, legal director at the ACLU of Indiana. “There is absolutely no justification for this overly broad ‘no-protest zone.’ The Indiana State Police are severely compromising protesters’ ability to express themselves and to express their opposition to the death penalty while in sight of the prison.”

Three men were executed in July at the federal prison in Terre Haute, and more executions are scheduled over the next two months.

The ACLU is requesting the court declare:

  • that the plaintiffs’ constitutional rights were violated
  • a preliminary injunction, allowing people to protest outside of the prison’s main entrance
  • awarded plaintiffs costs and attorneys’ fees.

WRTV has reached out to ISP for comment on the lawsuit.