The American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada held two town hall forums on July 24th and 25th. The first was held at the Mexican Consulate and the second was held in a religious meeting hall called Asamblea Apostolica, Tercera Iglesia. The ACLU hosted these events, in collaboration with the Las Vegas chapter of the NAACP, the Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada, and the Consulate of Mexico in Las Vegas, to encourage community members and advocates to share their stories on police brutality they have experienced or witnessed.

Eight individuals stood and shared their stories. Some had been humiliated and unnecessarily arrested. Some had been Tasered. Some even had family members face fatal encounters with the police.

After the testimonies had been shared, the floor was opened to anyone who wanted to share other relevant comments and concerns. Consensus seemed to emerge that Metro officers have no accountability and that the sense of trust between officers and citizens has been broken. Several attendees testified that citizens who used to call the police for protection now feared the end result of an encounter.

The ACLU appreciates the courage it took each individual to speak out at these events, and we hope that others will join in. This is only the beginning of the conversation.

ACLU of Nevada Executive Director Dane Claussen welcomed participants both evenings (along with Consul General Mariano Lemus Gas at the consulate and Pastor Antonio Jimenez at the Asamblea Apostolica) and Legal Director Staci Pratt introduced the event. Phil Hooper, the ACLU of Nevada’s Administrative Director, moderated, and Octavio Porales, the Consulate’s Protection Consel, translated both Spanish to English and English to Spanish. Each speaker was invited to share his or her story and was allotted five minutes, so that everyone wishing to share had an opportunity to do so.

by Heba Tellawi, ACLU of Nevada Legal Intern