Recently, mass protests due to the untimely death of George Floyd have taken the nation by storm. Because of this, we feel it is critical that you understand your rights under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to peaceably assemble. Please read on to learn more about your right to protest.
You are allowed to protest anywhere that is classified as a traditional public forum. Public parks, streets, and sidewalks are all considered traditional public forums. You are allowed to take pictures or videos of anything in plain view in traditional public forums as well. Counterprotesters are also protected under these rights, however, police can separate protesters and their detractors, as long as both groups are kept within sight and sound of one another. That being said, if you are marching on the street without a permit, police can tell you to move to the side of the street or onto the sidewalk if you are blocking traffic.
You are allowed to protest in front of a government building, so long as you do not block access to the property or inhibit the building's purpose or functionality.
You may not lawfully protest or take pictures or videos on private property without the explicit consent of that property owner. As long as the property owner gives you his or her consent, however, you are free to protest and take pictures/videos of anything in plain view.
Police are not permitted to break up a peaceful protest, however, they are allowed to break up a protest that poses a clear and present danger, such as a riot. However, before charging anyone with a criminal offense, police must issue a clear dispersal order while providing individuals with sufficient time, as well as a clear and safe pathway to leave the scene. Furthermore, police must inform all those attending the protest of the consequences of not leaving before making any arrests.
If you believe a police officer has violated your right to peaceably assemble, the first thing you should do is take pictures or videos of the injustice you have experienced or witnessed. From here, you should jot down all details of the incident you remember, such as badge numbers, patrol car numbers, and more. Next, you may file a written complaint either with the civilian complaint board or with the agency's internal affairs division.
Finally, if you are now facing criminal charges or you believe your right to protest has been infringed upon, please do not hesitate to give us a call today. We are on your side.
Here at the Ruben Law Firm, we understand how much your legal situation means to you. That is why we pledge to provide you with the personalized attention you deserve, every step of the way. Our firm is more than happy to assist you through matters of personal injury law, bankruptcy, family law, criminal defense, and estate planning. Attorney Ruben has helped clients achieve favorable results in a wide array of legal matters for years, and he is ready to do the same for you. Simply contact the Ruben Law Firm today.