The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has issued a demand today for Lafayette Mayor-President Josh Guillory to rescind his ban on "congregating or loitering" downtown. In effect, this effectively bans protests, according to a press release by the ACLU.

The penalty for violating the ban is up to $500 or six months in jail.

Mayor-President Guillory announced additional restrictive measures last week for Lafayette Parish in addition to Governor John Bel Edwards' extension of Phase Two for the state.

The main point of contention by some, including the ACLU, is the following:

There shall be no congregating or loitering on sidewalks, streets or public areas in the area bounded by Evangeline Thruway, West Congress Street, Lafayette Street, University Avenue, and Johnston Street, specifically including, but not limited to Parc Sans Souci, Parc de Lafayette, Parc Putnam, Parc International, Jefferson Street, and any other public gathering areas or greenspaces within this geographic area (commonly referred to as "the downtown area").

"We all recognize the importance of social distancing during the pandemic, but the First Amendment still applies," said Alanah Odoms Hebert, ACLU of Louisiana executive director.

Hebert continues: "The Mayor’s order is a clear violation of the right to protest guaranteed to every American under the Constitution and must be revoked immediately. The Mayor’s inflammatory comments about protest leaders are a clear indication of the true motive behind this policy: to criminalize peaceful demonstrators and suppress their right to demand justice for the killing of Trayford Pellerin. Criminalizing peaceful protest and attacking his own constituents will not help this community heal, nor will it bring about the urgent change that’s needed to stop the scourge of police violence against Black communities. The ACLU of Louisiana will be closely monitoring the enforcement of this order and stands ready to take legal action if necessary to protect the right to protest in Lafayette.”

These restrictive measures went into effect on August 29 and will run through September 11.

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