ACLU of Alaska Opposes Police Retaliation in Alaskan’s Case Before the U.S. Supreme Court

Affiliate: ACLU of Alaska
October 17, 2018 1:30 pm

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Anchorage, AK – The ACLU of Alaska has joined with the National Police Accountability Project, Roderick and Solange MacArthur Justice Center, and the national ACLU on an amicus brief to explain to the U.S. Supreme Court and the State of Alaska that police may not retaliatorily arrest people for verbally challenging the police’s actions, even if probable cause for such an arrest otherwise exists.

The case is Luis A. Nieves, et al v. Russell P. Bartlett, which stems from the arrest of Mr. Bartlett at a campsite party during Arctic Man in 2014. When state troopers arrived at the party to investigate underage drinking Mr. Bartlett declined to speak with them, encouraged others to do likewise, and verbally challenged the troopers’ questioning.

After a confrontation caught on camera, Trooper Nieves arrested Bartlett for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and told him, “Bet you wish you would have talked to me now.” Nearly a year later the State of Alaska dropped all charges against Mr. Bartlett.

The ability of individuals to verbally question, challenge, or oppose the actions of government agents without risking arrest is one of the truest expressions of the U.S. Constitution’s 1st Amendment protections.

“The ACLU of Alaska is proud to stand up for every person’s right to peacefully speak their minds to police, or choose not to, without fear of retaliation,” said ACLU of Alaska Executive Director Joshua A. Decker. “As courts have noted, this is what distinguishes a free nation from a police state.”

The American Civil Liberties Union is our nation’s guardian of liberty. For nearly 100 years, the ACLU has been at the forefront of virtually every major battle for civil liberties and equal justice in this country. Principled and nonpartisan, the ACLU works in the courts, legislatures, and communities to preserve and expand the individual rights and liberties guaranteed to all people in this country by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The ACLU of Alaska, founded in 1971, is one of the 53 state ACLU affiliates that strive to make the Bill of Rights real for everyone and to uphold the promise of the Constitution—because freedom can’t protect itself.

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