Agent Sues to Defend First Amendment Rights
EL PASO, TX -- Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP), a group of police officers, judges, prosecutors and federal agents, is standing in support of a U.S. Customs and Border Protection agent who was fired for saying in a casual conversation that legalizing and regulating drugs would help stop cartel violence along the southern border with Mexico. After sharing his views with a colleague, the fired agent, Bryan Gonzalez, received a letter of termination stating that his comments are "contrary to the core characteristics of Border Patrol Agents, which are patriotism, dedication, and espirit de corps." Last week, with the help of the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, Gonzalez filed a lawsuit seeking damages.
"There's no doubt that the so-called 'war on drugs' is a gigantic failure and that it causes violence, hurts our economy and forces dedicated law enforcers to risk their lives in the line of fire for a lost cause," said Terry Nelson, a former U.S. border patrol agent who is now a board member for LEAP. "But whether you think we should legalize drugs or not, you have to support the right of brave law enforcers like Bryan Gonzalez to exercise the First Amendment and share their views on policies that impact them on a daily basis."
Gonzalez, the fired agent, specifically mentioned LEAP and its website - http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com - as a part of the conversation that led to his being fired.
To read Gonzalez's complaint filed in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, visit: http://aclu-nm.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/GONZALEZ_COMPLAINT_FILED.pdf
Previously, in a separate case, one of LEAP's pro-legalization police speakers, Jonathan Wender, sued the Mountlake Terrace, Washington police department after having been fired for expressing his views on the failure of the "war on drugs." In January 2009, the department settled, reinstating Wender and giving him back pay and full benefits.
Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) represents police, prosecutors, judges, FBI/DEA agents and others who want to legalize and regulate drugs after fighting on the front lines of the "war on drugs" and learning firsthand that prohibition only serves to worsen addiction and violence. More info at http://www.CopsSayLegalizeDrugs.com.
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 25, 2010
CONTACT: Tom Angell - (202) 557-4979 or media//at//leap//dot//cc