ACLU files lawsuit against Indiana State Police over death penalty protests at Terre Haute prison

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INDIANAPOLIS– The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Indiana announced the filing of a lawsuit Tuesday against Indiana State Police (ISP) following protest of executions in July at the Terre Haute prison.

The ACLU filed the lawsuit on behalf of Death Penalty Action, Indiana Abolition Coalition, Providence of Saint-Mary-of-the-Woods Indiana, and individuals who protested and stood vigil in opposition of the executions.

The lawsuit alleges state police forced demonstrators to protest nearly two miles away from the prison.

Protesters planned to demonstrate immediately outside the gates of the federal prison, but the lawsuit claims state police erected barricades and closed roads leading to the prison, forcing protesters to be miles away. The ACLU alleges this is a violation of their First Amendment rights.

“These restrictions obstruct one of the most fundamental rights protected by the Constitution, political speech. 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,” said ACLU of Indiana Legal Director Ken Falk.

Another option was for protesters to be bused into a fenced-in area on prison grounds.

“The area would have been far removed from the death chamber and would have required protesters to stay for an unknown amount of time, with little shelter in extreme heat, until the execution occurred,” the ACLU said in a release.

The lawsuit seeks an injunction allowing the allowing the organizations and individual plaintiffs to engage in protests immediately outside of the main entrance of Terre Haute prison. More protests are planned due to several executions scheduled for August and September.

When asked for as statement, Indiana State Police told FOX59 it is their policy to not comment on pending litigation.

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