Headed to a Protest? Make Sure You Know Your Rights

(RepublicanReport.org) – The First Amendment to the US Constitution gives every American the right to peacefully assemble. Still, there are rules everyone must follow during a protest to ensure you are on the right side of the law. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) provided tips for those who organize or attend a protest, including what to do if you feel your rights have been violated.

Before heading out to a protest to make your voice heard — something well within your rights — keep in mind that your right to peaceful assembly is strongest in “traditional public forums” like parks, sidewalks, and streets. Private property owners can set their own rules for protests. However, while on public property, protestors cannot block access to government buildings or interfere with the business typically conducted on the property.

The First Amendment also guarantees the government cannot make a law restricting your free speech. There are, however, limitations on what you can say. Those restrictions include threats, slander, certain obscenities, and fighting words. Protestors have the right to peacefully assemble only.

While at a protest in a public space, you can photograph anything in plain view, including the police and federal buildings. Plus, you don’t need a permit to march in the street or sidewalks, as long as you aren’t obstructing traffic — vehicular or pedestrian.

If you feel your rights have been violated during a protest, write down everything that happened, including officer identifications, witnesses, and incidents that occurred as you remember them. Also, take photographs of any injuries you have or see. All of that information can be useful at a later date, and memory alone can be unreliable.

Self shared some safety tips to follow while protesting. Those include protesting with a friend and wearing comfortable but protective clothing — like goggles and walking shoes. In addition, bring your identification, emergency contacts, cash, snacks, and water. Look to the organizers for protest instructions and be prepared to leave if it gets out of hand.

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