Protesters have changed the course of history and shaped our country over and over again. By exercising your right to protest, your voice can be one that helps to change the world. As a protester, it’s important to know your rights and limitations so you can stay peaceful and educated during your protest.
Your Right to Protest in Public Spaces
Protesters are best protected in “traditional public forums” like sidewalks, streets, and parks. You have the right to protest in these locations, and you’re less likely to be questioned or stopped by authorities if you’re sticking to traditional public forums. You also have the right to photograph or take a video of anything in a public location, especially if you feel your rights are being violated.
Government Buildings and Private Properties
Government buildings are generally considered to be safe protest places. As long as your protest takes place outside of these buildings and doesn’t interfere with the purpose of the building (such as blocking attorneys from entering a courthouse), your right to protest remains.
Private properties cannot be used as protest sites unless the owner of the property has given proper consent. The owner also has the power to set rules for photos and videos, and can opt to not allow either on their property. If the owner of the private property gives permission, you can protest or take photos or videos at that location.
Just as peaceful protesters have a right to protest in public places, so do counterprotesters. The police must treat both protests equally, as long as both remain peaceful. When dealing with conflicting protests, officers will often try to maintain a safe distance between the two crowds while simultaneously keeping them within sight and sound of each other. The goal is to allow both crowds to exercise their free speech rights while also preventing violence from breaking out.
What to Do If Your Rights Have Been Violated
If your protesting rights have been violated, documentation is key. Whenever you can, write down or take an audio or video recording of your experience in as much detail as possible. Include addresses, officer names, badge numbers, and any other identifying information you can remember. Try to get contact information from anyone who can testify as a witness, and take pictures of any physical injuries you’ve sustained. Once you have all your evidence gathered, an attorney can help you file a complaint.
Defend Your Rights With Davis, Ermis and Roberts
At Davis, Ermis and Roberts, we fight to protect the rights of protesters. If you’ve had your rights violated while protesting, or if excessive force was used on you and your fellow protesters, get in touch with us today. The talented attorneys at our firm work hard to make sure your rights are respected throughout the legal process, and we’ll put together the best defense so you can get the best possible outcome in court. Call or visit our website to get in touch with a talented defense attorney today!