The American Civil Liberties Union announced Thursday it will no longer defend what it considers “hate groups” who protest with firearms, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
The announcement comes after violent clashes in Charlottesville, VA between white nationalists and Antifa counter-protesters, which killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer after a car plowed into a group of people in the street.
ACLU executive director told the Journal that a handful of people open-carried firearms in Charlottesville, which can “suppress speech due to intimidation.”
“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” Romero said. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”
Romero said the ACLU will continue to defend white nationalist groups, particularly on the basis of free speech, but will be evaluating each group on a case-by-case basis.
The ACLU previously defended “Unite the Right” rally-goers in Charlottesville after the city attempted to force marchers to find a new location even after securing the appropriate permits.