ACLU will no longer defend hate groups that protest with firearms

ACLU will no longer defend hate groups that protest with firearms
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The American Civil Liberties Union took a new stance on firearms Thursday, announcing a change in policy that it would not represent hate groups who demonstrate with firearms. 

ACLU executive director Anthony Romero told The Wall Street Journal that the group would have stricter screenings and take legal requests from white supremacist groups on a case-by-case basis.

“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 told the 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."

The ACLU has come under fire after it filed a lawsuit in defense of the organizers who planned the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, Va., after city officials denied them a permit to hold the rally around a statue of Robert E. Lee, which is set to be removed. 

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The group was ultimately granted the permit for the Saturday rally, which later turned violent and resulted in one death and more than a dozen injured.

"But let's be clear: our lawsuit challenging the city to act constitutionally did not cause violence nor did it in any way address the question whether demonstrators could carry sticks or other weapons at the events," Virginia ACLU executive director Claire Gastanaga said in a statement earlier this week.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 people were injured when a car, allegedly driven by a man with connections to white supremacists, was driven into a crowd of counterprotesters on Saturday, according to police. 

The violence shook the nation and has left many debating how to address speech by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups.