LAS VEGAS—A dozen organizations on Friday sent a letter to legislative leaders opposing intimidation tactics and chilled speech at legislative hearings.

On March 21, the Nevada State Assembly Committee on Judiciary, held a hearing on Assembly Bill 325, which proposed to overhaul the state’s broken cash bail system. Affected community members, including black, brown, and lower income constituents, and other supporters of criminal justice reforms gathered in Carson City and in Las Vegas to voice their support for these overdue reforms.

During this hearing, Daryl DeShaw, representing the Surety Bail Agents of Nevada association (which opposes AB 325) was seen and heard approaching Legislative Police to demand a community member speaking in support of the bill be arrested in connection with an active warrant on a traffic infraction. Several other community members who were planning to testify in support of AB 325 witnessed the exchange and chose not to testify out of fear of reprisal.

“It is clear to us that written policies must be enacted immediately to protect First Amendment rights at all legislative hearings, and updated training for Legislative Police must occur to protect the rights of those participating in the democratic process,” the letter reads.

“Legislators need to hear from vulnerable and marginalized Nevadans. We plead with you to make it clear that Legislative Police will not be manipulated or used as a cudgel by special interest groups to stop these important voices from being heard.”

Organizations signed onto the letter include:

— ACLU of Nevada.

— NAACP Las Vegas

— Battle Born Progress

— Progressive Leadership Alliance of Nevada

— Make the Road Nevada

— Mi Familia Vota

— Indivisible Northern Nevada (Reno, Tahoe and Douglass)

— ACTIONN

— Faith Organizing Alliance

— SEIU Local 1107

— Nevada Attorneys for Criminal Justice

— Make It Work Nevada

— Be the Change Project

— Culinary Union

— NextGen Nevada

 

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