ACLU Will No Longer Defend Armed ‘Hate Groups’

(Photo: Albin Lohr-Jones/Sipa via AP Images)

The American Civil Liberties Union is putting its foot down when it comes to providing legal representation for those who would seek to exercise their First and Second Amendment rights simultaneously. It will no longer defend armed demonstrators!

The ACLU is qualifying this policy change by saying it doesn’t want to defend armed “hate groups,” but one wonders if this is a slippery slope for an organization that has worked to protect and preserve the Constitutional rights of individuals for the past 100 years.

For example, some on the Left would argue that the NRA is a hate group. Of course, it’s not. But you can see how this opens up a can of worms in that it leaves it open to interpretation. Then, there’s the other side of the coin: armed hate groups on the Left. Would the ACLU also decline to defend the new Black Panther party just as it now won’t defend the KKK?

This announcement came on the heels of the violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, this past weekend.

“We’ve had people with odious views, all manner of bigots. But not people who want to carry weapons and are intent on committing violence,” ACLU spokeswoman Stacy Sullivan told Reuters.

Many of the white nationalists who showed up at the “Unite the Right” protest in Charlottesville were armed. But one could make an argument that they carried firearms for self-defense — not for intimidation.

Nevertheless, the ACLU says guns and protesting don’t mix.

“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,” Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director told The Wall Street Journal.

“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 continued.

Meanwhile, anti-gunners couldn’t wait to jump on the ACLU announcement, attempting to equate gun owners with white supremacists.

“This is an important step in a battle against armed extremists that Moms Demand Action volunteers have been fighting for almost five years,” said Shannon Watts, the founder of Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America. “We know all too well what it feels like to speak out when your opponents ambush your peaceful rallies or meetings with loaded, military-style rifles on their backs.”

“That’s why we fight to stop open carry, and push back against gun laws that would make open carry easier, at every chance we get – and often we win,” she continued. “After Charlottesville, we are resolved to only get louder about this important public safety issue.”

See the subtle conflation? The ACLU is presumably talking about clansman and Neo-Nazis and white supremacists. Watts beef over the past five years hasn’t been with these groups, rather it’s been with peaceful open carry advocates, whom she called “armed extremists.” Her implication is that those open carry advocates are one in the same as KKK members, Neo-Nazis, and white supremacists.

That’s totally unfair to open carry advocates. There’s a big difference between standing up for one’s right to keep and bear arms and agitating for an all White Ethno-State. One accords with the U.S. Constitution and the other is batshit crazy.

Hopefully, the ACLU doesn’t paint with too broad a brushstroke with its new policy and it will be able to differentiate between responsible gun-rights activists and clansman.  But only time will tell.

{ 27 comments… add one }
  • richard August 26, 2017, 10:39 am

    not to defend an armed individual. ok I can buy into that. IF it includes carrying bats, sticks, pocket knifes, throwing of objects, spitting .( which can cause blindness, hiv ect.) even the wearing of face masks incite terror and fear far greater then the legal open carry to most people. Gasoline, rope or just throwing the first punch. All of which can cause serious damage or death to any one on the receiving end. If these items are not covered by the no defend clause, It is a one sided judgment which should exclude any government support to this organization. my 2cents

  • mike August 26, 2017, 7:46 am

    who the f**k you bull$hitting??? the aclu is a pile of dog$hit commie/social-engineering bunch of scumbags!!!! always has been, always will be, anybody who says different is also a pile of dog$hit but of the “LYING” kind!!! so who YOU BULL$HITTING BLANNELBERRY???????

  • Big Sancho August 25, 2017, 5:02 pm

    Chuck, the difference is: George Zimmerman followed a teenage boy around,like an idiot, until said boy got frustrated and did something about it. Zimmerman couldn’t take that ass kicking like a MAN, so he murdered in cold blood. I love how bigots try to deflect attention/blame from the murderers to the victims.
    I am a 19 year military veteran, and an open carry advocate, but i am also a Black man in America. Long gone is the era when I had to “know my place” and if you follow ME around like he did, I’ll confront the problem with words, then fist/feet, then bullets if it comes t that. I’d rather take my chance with the Jury than with the Reaper. Zimmerman wouldn’t have HAD to “stand his ground”(if you believe that), if he had stayed put and not escalated the matter.

    • Bob Hamilton August 25, 2017, 9:49 pm

      Zimmerman was a neighborhood watch who had been told that there had been several break-ins by young men wearing hoodies. He followed Trevor until Trevor went into his dad’s home, and then turned around to go home himself. Trevor phoned his girlfriend, and told her there was a cracker queer following him, and he was going to get him. So we have a homophobic, racist who went out of his way to cause a confrontation when he was already safe at home, hunting down someone who meant him no harm. We don’t know how the fight started, but Trevor may have attacked from behind without warning, and was banging Zimmerman’s head on the pavement. The jury saw all the evidence, and concluded Zimmerman feared for his life, and was within his rights to shoot.

    • Kb31416 August 26, 2017, 5:23 pm

      Sanchez: bravo sierra. Travon Martin was a drugged up two but thug who attacked Zimmerman and, as the previous commenter noted, was on top of z and pounding his head repeatedly against the concrete sidewalk. Z would be dead had he not shot travon ONCE in self defense. Quit trying to relitigate the issue that was solved in the courts when actual evidence was presented, not just insane leftist rants and revisionist fake “facts”.
      Sorry, but the beatification ceremony for saint travon and Michael brown have been cancelled.

  • Michael Keim August 25, 2017, 1:27 pm

    The ACLU has never defended the 2nd Amendment.

    • John L August 25, 2017, 10:59 pm

      Actually they have. Reference them standing with the NRA on the watch list fiasco.

  • Jerry B August 25, 2017, 10:17 am

    One group followed all the rules and laws by getting a permit for their activity well in advance of their event. It was a peacefull demonstration until they were set upon by thugs from the likes of Antifa and BLM who were determined to inject violence into a peaceful demonstration to stiffle their right to free speech. The agenda of white supremacy is repugnant, but they do have the same rights as any left wing organization. There was violence on both sides but it could have been much worse had someone drawn a pistol. Very strong restraint by both sides in that regard.

  • ToddB August 25, 2017, 8:36 am

    Im a little confused, last I heard most who frequent gun sites, hate the ACLU. But now resent they wont defend you? Not like anybody here is going to be hiring the ACLU.

  • Infidel762x51 August 25, 2017, 8:02 am

    How much do you want to bet that ruling will not apply to fascist group antifa or the blm.

  • akjc77 August 25, 2017, 6:50 am

    And they can call any group thats armed a hate group now with that stipulation. A hunting club or group can now be considered a hate group if they support our POTUS or conservative values, its just that simple.

    • billker August 25, 2017, 9:37 pm

      it reminds me of a law thar was still on the books in So. Dak. in 1998 re: Indians. the law stated that if a group of Indians numbered 5 or more it was legal to fire on them as they constituted a war party. I feel we should pass a law that states if a group of antifa or blm number 5 or more we can fire on them as they constitute a terrorist organization. then find which law schools gave degrees to aclu members and decertify them.

  • rogertc1 August 25, 2017, 6:01 am

    Are Black Lives Matter, Black Panthers, and Anti-fascists hate groups?

    • Alan August 25, 2017, 8:59 am

      In fact, AntiFa in particular is a TERROR group, threatening and inciting violence.
      It’s self claimed members usually go masked, and are often the FIRST ones to go to violence.

      • Bear August 25, 2017, 3:00 pm

        Sez you. It\’s a hard knock life when the people you push decide to push back, eh, snowflake?

        • Big Sancho August 25, 2017, 4:53 pm

          @Bear, lol. They say: “It ain’t no fun when the rabbit’s got the gun”.

    • Kb31416 August 26, 2017, 5:32 pm

      Yes, these groups are terror groups that routinely incite, and commit violence to assert their positions and prevent anyone who disagrees with them from speaking. It is about time that people prepare to defend themselves against the attacks from these masked thugs.
      The left is going to find out that they do not have a monopoly on force.

  • Will Drider August 19, 2017, 12:58 am

    For simplicity: member no both sided openly displayed firearms and it no stretch to say many firearms were concealed. The “event” got very violent several times at several locations. HOWEVER, there is not a single report of a gun being fired! Per the press and anti-gun groups evil people had evil guns, but there wasn’t a Wild West shootout like they claim will happen with open carry in spite of the hype of all the violence that took place.
    There’s two parts to this. First, nobody with a firearm was threatened or attacked to a point of justification to use lethal force and second nobody committed a criminal act with unlawfully discharging a firearm or in gun grabber language committed “gun violence”.
    Digest that! By now you have seen numerous vids of the clashes and firearms present and the non firearm weapons the belligerents actually used: No shots fired. It is clear in this case that gun owners from all elements exercised proper judgement regarding their carried firearms. Other then that, it was a disgrace to democracy, a trampling of the 1A and another example that LE (even in mass of over 1K) did not protect citizens or their Constitutional Rights. A whopping eight arrests!

    • Kb31416 August 26, 2017, 5:37 pm

      It is actually unfortunate that some of the antifa thugs with non-firearm weapons were not fired upon. The restraint shown by lawful ccw holders was actually excessive. They should not be required to submit to being assaulted.

  • Robert Smith August 18, 2017, 7:44 pm

    So ACLU, how do you know if the group you are defending is \”armed\”? This is America, remember – 300 million guns. Every group you defend is armed, or at least has some armed members. What\’s really going on here is that the ACLU has gotten a lot of push-back from its usual supporters on this White Supremest thing and is now looking for an out.

  • Bob August 18, 2017, 6:48 pm

    I carry most of the time. However, I also avoid confrontation at all costs. If you go to an event like the one in Charlottesville there’s likely to be confrontation. Some people are looking for it (George Zimmerman). I’d really prefer to never have to put my hands on a gun except for target shooting or hunting. Unfortunately there’re cowboys that want to put a ball in someone. That makes all of us responsible gun afficianados look bad.

    • Chuck August 25, 2017, 12:40 pm

      Bob, why the reference to George Zimmerman? Further if you avoid confrontation at all cost why carry at all. What I am hearing from you is this “Someone breaks into home – I run”. Bob, there are going to be situations where you decide to avoid a confrontation and someone maybe a family member could very well be hurt. The best possible thing is for you to be aware that most people are basically good, however there are others like Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown.

  • jay m August 18, 2017, 12:21 pm

    “the right of the people PEACEABLY to assemble…” (amendment 1, u.s. constitution). there was nothing peaceable about these protests. all the participants came armed and intending as much violence as they could generate. there is no right, constitutional or otherwise, to assemble for purposes of violence. don’t let your devotion to the second amendment lead you to try and defend the indefensible.

    • Bill in Lexington, NC August 25, 2017, 2:52 am

      “all the participants came armed and intending as much violence as they could generate.”

      That is simply a lie. The ones with firearms did not use them. The side with clubs DID use their weapons. The violent ones were those wearing the black clothing and the masks.

      If the ones with firearms had intended to use them aggressively, you’d have known about it.

    • Herman August 25, 2017, 9:43 am

      Got to wonder if the ACLU will review violence, breaking the law while protesting or just general bad behavior as a reasoning not to represent protesters. Seems that most of the clients they represent would find themselves getting their own lawyers. On the Clarksville protesters “coming armed with the intent to commit violence”, how many people were shot at the rally? How many of the people who were protesting the armed protesters had clubs? and used them? Got to ask yourself if you believe in what your protesting in, why wear a mask?

    • Jerry B August 25, 2017, 10:06 am

      One group followed all the rules and laws by getting a permit for their activity well in advance of their event. It was a peacefull demonstration until they were set upon by thugs from the likes of Antifa and BLM who were determined to inject violence into a peaceful demonstration to stiffle their right to free speech. The agenda of white supremacy is repugnant, but they do have the same rights as any left wing organization. There was violence on both sides but it could have been much worse had someone drawn a pistol. Very strong restraint by both sides in that regard.

    • Bear August 25, 2017, 3:01 pm

      Spot on, Jay.

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