PHILADELPHIA - As people in Lancaster, Pa., continue to make their frustrations and fury with city police known after a police officer killed Ricardo Muñoz on Sunday, a county magisterial district judge on Monday set exorbitantly high cash bail for several protesters who were arrested during the first day of street actions. At least six protesters are being held on cash bail orders of one million dollars.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania responded to the cash bail orders by releasing a statement on Tuesday afternoon that denounced holding people on cash bail orders that they are unable to pay.
The following can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“The one million dollar cash bail orders for several young Black Lives Matter protesters last night is an egregious and unacceptable abuse of the bail system. Cash bail should never be used to deter demonstrators and chill speech. We demand answers from Lancaster County District Attorney Heather Adams and from Magisterial District Judge Bruce Roth, who set the bail amount.
“In what should be a time of honest self-reflection and reform in the criminal legal system, people like Ms. Adams and Mr. Roth instead seem to be doubling down on the broken, dangerous policies that brought us, as a nation, to this point. This is completely unacceptable.”
The following can be attributed to Nyssa Taylor, criminal justice policy counsel at the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“The use of cash bail is intended to achieve one, and only one, goal - to ensure that a person charged with a crime shows up to court. Judges can’t just set cash bail on a whim. By law, they must consider a person’s ability to pay before assigning cash bail. It’s inconceivable that the judge who assigned young Black Lives Matter protesters one million dollar cash bail following their arrests made the determination that each protester had the ability to pay such an exorbitant amount. What’s far more likely is that the million-dollar bail was set as a warning to other protesters, chilling their ability to exercise their First Amendment right to assemble, and deterring further demonstrations against this latest police killing.”
The following can be attributed to Danitra Sherman, campaigns director at the ACLU of Pennsylvania:
“After months of protests against police violence, it is horrifying to continue seeing videos of police killing Black and Brown individuals. While the killing of people of color at the hands of police is not new, it is devastating that we have yet to implement police reform that would eradicate systemic racism in policing, preventing lives from being lost figuratively and literally.
“Now, with young Black Lives Matter protesters behind bars in Lancaster and slapped with a million-dollar cash bail, it’s clear that instead of a willingness to make good-faith reforms, many police, prosecutors, and judges are simply doubling down and abusing their power, showing their willingness to throw out the First Amendment and rules regarding the use of cash bail to scare people away from demonstrating against police violence and racial injustice. Stakeholders in the criminal legal system will eventually have to make some hard changes. Enough is enough - and we aren’t going anywhere.”