MESA, Ariz., March 17, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Citizens for Free Speech (CFFS) calls on all national, state and local officials to exercise caution when issuing any government orders or instructions that may conflict with First Amendment protections contained in the Bill of Rights.
Governors across the country are using executive powers to restrict citizens from free assembly, including religious gatherings, following public recommendations of "social distancing" people from one another. Ohio Governor Mike DeWine issued a ban on gatherings of 100 or more, while the governors of Washington, Oregon and California arbitrarily set the number for public gatherings at 250 with penalties for violations.
CFFS is also concerned with law enforcement policies being implemented against a citizenry already concerned with governmental encroachment upon personal liberties. On Sunday evening in New Orleans, for instance, police cars swept Bourbon Street clean of citizens and tourists, citing the governor's limit of 250 people gathering in one location.
"Using local police officers to enforce state-ordered bans on the right of people to assemble," said CFFS Executive Director Patrick Wood, "is definitely not Martial Law, but it has the appearance of it with local police substituting for the military. We believe governors and mayors should take a step back from such extreme policies."
Wood is also alarmed by some local leaders' rapid expansion of questionable executive power. The mayor of Champaign, Illinois, for example, has been given "extraordinary" power to potentially suspend the 2nd Amendment in her city, as well as the sale of alcohol, after an ordinance passed the Champaign city council.
"While states and online retailers such as Amazon and eBay have taken steps to curtail price gouging," Wood explained, "some government officials are actually engaging in regulatory gouging and taking advantage of the current situation for political gain."
While recognizing the severity of the international health crisis, Wood also warned state leaders to consider the economic repercussions of voluntary and involuntary restrictions on small businesses and individuals. "The economic impact will simply put some businesses and individuals out of business and straight into bankruptcy," Wood said.
CFFS is urging citizens nationwide to educate themselves on their Constitutional rights, and insist that their elected officials include firm sunset clauses or end dates for any local or statewide ordinances passed within their jurisdictions.
For more information, please visit www.CitizensForFreeSpeech.org.
National Director of Communications