UPDATE (June 15) -- Las Vegas police released a brief statement on Monday in response to the arrests on Saturday. 

When officers issue dispersal orders, as was the case during Saturday’s protest, people who choose not clear the area are subject to being detained, cited or arrested.

Currently, the LVMPD is reviewing the actions taken by both protestors and law enforcement.

Police said more details will be released at a press conference "when we have a more complete picture."


LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -- Local officials and political groups expressed concern and outrage — and called for action — after Las Vegas police arrested several legal observers along with protesters on June 13.

The Las Vegas National Lawyers Guild Chapter said seven of their legal observers, five of which are practicing attorneys and two who are law clerks, were arrested in the protest. Two of them remained in custody until about 1 a.m.

Per the group, legal observers are volunteer attorneys, law students and legal workers who are neutral observers in the protests. The observers note and record any improper or illegal activity. 

Gov. Steve Sisolak called for any action against the legal observers to be fully investigated in a statement released on Sunday. 

Legal observers provide a valuable service as part of our system of justice by informing protesters about how to lawfully express their rights and answering questions about what conduct is lawful. Any reports of police action against legal observers should be fully investigated and reviewed so a full understanding of what happened can be determined. That information should be used to develop long-term solution to avoid a similar re-occurrence in the future. - Gov. Sisolak

Nevada Attorney General Aaron Ford echoed the governor's statement, saying the observers play a "pivotal role in our justice system, and they reserve the right to cover what's going on in our community."

Ford said any actions against them "must be investigated so we can better understand what took place and avoid the same actions in the future." 

Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones called the arrests "unacceptable" late Saturday. "If the legal observers are still in custody, release them immediately. And don’t do it again," he wrote.

Jones later tweeted he had spoken with Sheriff Joe Lombardo and reviewed video footage of the arrests. 

John Piro, Deputy Public Defender, was one of the legal observers arrested. 

"As a legal observer, I was not a protester but an independent and objective witness. The police snatched Belinda T. Harris and I off the sidewalk, zip tied us, and arrested us for nothing," he wrote on Twitter.

"We were observing people exercising their First Amendment rights. We were obeying the law—that didn’t matter to police. We were following officers’ orders—that didn’t matter," Piro wrote. "It was an overt display of power—a statement by the police that they can snatch you up anytime for anything, and do whatever they want to you even when you are following the law and obeying their orders. Even if you are out there to protect other people’s rights."

The ACLU of Nevada Legal Director Sherrie Royster said the organization stands in solidarity with protesters. 

Here in Las Vegas, instead of de-escalating tense situations, police are shooting pepper balls indiscriminately into peaceful crowds and using chemical weapons such as tear gas to disperse protesters. On June 1, a protester was fatally shot by police and the officers weren’t wearing body cameras. These aggressive tactics are shameful and dangerously escalate these situations, putting protesters, journalists, bystanders, and the police themselves at great risk of injury and death. It is also irresponsible to use chemical irritants that affect the respiratory system and cause fits of coughing during a highly contagious and lethal pandemic.

ACLU's statement referenced recent arrests of peaceful protesters, neutral legal observers and journalists. 

“They give arbitrary and random orders to disperse, allowing crowds only minutes to comply before police start to detain demonstrators," the statement from Royster said in part. “Pepper balls, gas, and arrests should not be taken lightly when used against protestors exercising their First Amendment rights. What we have seen over the past weeks is officers using these tactics as a quick way to wrap up when they decide the protests should end."

The protest against police brutality gathered on the Strip on Saturday evening. 

Traffic on the Las Vegas Strip was temporarily affected as demonstrators blocked lanes of the Boulevard. Prior to that, about 150 people had gathered near the Bellagio with signage supporting Black Lives Matter, chanting and dancing. 

By 8 p.m. on June 13, the protest had shrunk in size, and had moved to Russell Road near Frank Sinatra Drive. The protesters originally planned to march to the Las Vegas sign, but were moved off-Strip by police in tactical gear. The march came to an end at Frank Sinatra Drive as videos from those in the demonstration showed police using what appeared to be pepper spray on the crowd. 

Several arrests were made after the order to disperse, including the legal observers; however it was unclear how many people were arrested in total.

Multiple requests for comment to the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department were not returned on Sunday. More information was expected when the department's public information office opens on Monday.

This is a developing story. Check back for details. 

Copyright 2020 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved

Recommended for you

(16) comments

Brooksie

It is interesting that it fails to mention the Militarized tactics that the police took to this peaceful protest. Including corraling us all into Russel Rd and the entrance to the N. Bound I -15 entrance, where we were asked to go by officers, presumably to get us off the Strip and out of sight of potential witnesses and upon doing so, we were met with armored vehicles, SWAT running towards us and then Rock Salt Bullets which were then shot at us?

Where is the media coverage of that?

These legal observers were doing their job. I watched from the front lines them write down the badge number of every cop who pulled out their batons and stood blocking the very sidewalks they told us to walk on.

I watched as they told a Legal Observer that it was okay to pass them to collect information of the person that they had just detained and upon doing so, also detaining her.

The instigate violence. They pretend our voices are weapons and retaliate with their own and it has to stop.

Flectric

The constitution says Peaceably Assemble, not protest, loot or riot.

I’m disgusted by the ignorance of society that keeps ignoring the facts of our founding law.

AmericaFirst

I they put any more ads on this site you will never see the comments.

I guess that is all part of the plan?

Panther121

No matter what the protesters do they are right and police are wrong. Protesting is a right, and not all protesters are violent. When violent protesters are caught they become criminals, plain and simple. It seems there are those who think protesters do no wrong and when they do the police are suppose to sit back and them do what they want. Believe it or there are laws and to use the excuses to burn down communities is not acceptable. Yes police make mistakes not all officers are bad. Just like their good and bad in all races. You can not blame the actions on a few on a whole race of people. On defunding or eliminating police. Who are people going to call the next door neighbor to help. Liberals are you reading this. Nobody is coming to save you when your in danger. So go ahead with this idea and see what happens

TruthBOMB

This is complete rubbish by supporters of domestic terrorism. We need to start suing media figures for inciting violence. As far as the "protesters," and I use that word loosely... start hiding welfare checks under work boots and those mobs will start dissipating faster than it takes to say the words "personal responsibility."

Nevermore

If this keeps continuing with the rioters on the strip, Las Vegas will never get its rhythm back. And Las Vegas will become another LA, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. So Mayor Goodman had better choose wisely.

Ginger

This is getting to be enough. The media sensationalizes this stuff daily with the safety net of 'Black Lives Matter', but only gives a blurb about the officer shot in the head on the strip, who is out of his coma but permanently paralyzed from the neck down. This mob no longer has a purpose as this Floyd martyr has been buried, and now just wants to disrupt life as we know it whenever possible, and destroy anything that belongs to 'whitey'. I work two jobs, and am tired of having to stay later to avoid the unrest and traffic nightmare they are creating, and putting my own safety at risk for this stupidity that is accomplishing nothing. Every life matters including that of law enforcement you misfits................

MicheleR58

George Soro's literally owns many a Media news sites. And its coming across of late,like he almost does of the Internet. He obviously was putting a Spanner in the Works BEFORE President Trump even won. For the just in case. And he is definitely using it because of his HATRED for this country and President Trump. Soro's was once quoted as saying he would " USE BLACKS. Because they're stupid and would do anything." This was said in 2014, in Germany. And yes, ALL LIVES MATTER.

vegasdawn

Ginger - I wish there was a way to "upvote" you like I can on Breitbart. You are so right.

Mediumjeep

Legal observers,aka rabble rousers = obummer trash ! ACLU communist propaganda garbage outfit ,loaded with problem liberal wack jobs Unamerican losers !

AmericaFirst

Too bad we can’t give these protesters an all expenses paid one way trip to guantanamo bay.

MicheleR58

How is it that BLACKS can expect ANY support from anyone when they keep pulling this and then cry RACISM? Blacks are causing it and no one else. Oh, and let's NOT forget George Soro's and his HATRED for this country. He needs to be found and jailed.

vegasdawn

My husband and I are in Justin Jones' district and he is a total failure for the residents and homeowners. Our neighborhood has been taken over illegally by short term rentals, which are illegal in the County and Justin Jones does nothing about it. We have had meetings with the County Commission where they voted unanimously to increase penalties for those who violate the laws, but from then on, there has been no enforcement. We had another meeting, just with Justin Jones and got nothing but lip service, and there has not been one of these violators shut down. Our neighbors have videos of activities that do not belong in our residential neighborhood, so it certainly was not that he did not have evidence of what going on, but he still refuses to enforce the law.

vegasdawn

Justin Jones is wrong as usual. This has to stop. The whole premise is ridiculous. The officer involved was arrested and someone needs to put a stop to this garbage in Las Vegas.

TrumpBeliever

By definition when you don't obey lawful orders from the Police, you are NO LONGER a legal observer. You get a free ride to the gray bar hotel. Stop with the Fake News.

JamesRobert

The whole story has gone right over your head, as usual.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.