NORTON META TAG

09 March 2017

Know Your Rights: Demonstrations and Protests & KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED AT A DEMONSTRATION OR PROTEST & KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE STOPPED BY POLICE, IMMIGRATION AGENTS OR THE FBI & KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE DETAINED FOR TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS

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FOLLOWING up on attempts by republican lawmakers to restrict our First Amendment rights  here is a primer from the ACLU explaining what our rights are and what to do if they are violated....

Know Your Rights:Demonstrations and Protests 
General guidelines
 Can my free speech be restricted because of what I say—even if it is controversial? No. The First Amendment prohibits restrictions based on the content of speech. However, this does not mean that the Constitution completely protects all types of free speech activity in every circumstance. Police and government officials are allowed to place certain nondiscriminatory and narrowly drawn "time, place and manner" restrictions on the exercise of First Amendment rights. Any such restrictions must apply to all speech regardless of its point of view.

 Where can I engage in free speech activity? Generally, all types of expression are constitutionally protected in traditional "public forums" such as streets, sidewalks and parks. In addition, your speech activity may be permitted to take place at other public locations that the government has opened up to similar speech activities, such as the plazas in front of government buildings.

 What about free speech activity on private property? The general rule is that the owners of private property may set rules limiting your free speech. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply).

 Do I need a permit before I engage in free speech activity? Not usually. However, certain types of events require permits. Generally, these events are: • A march or parade that does not stay on the sidewalk, and other events that require blocking traffic or street closure • A large rally requiring the use of sound amplifying devices; or • A rally at certain designated parks or plazas Many permit procedures require that the application be filed several weeks in advance of the event. However, the First Amendment prohibits such an advance notice requirement from being used to prevent rallies or demonstrations that are rapid responses to unforeseeable and recent events. Also, many permit ordinances give a lot of discretion to the police or city officials to impose conditions on the event, such as the route of a march or the sound levels of amplification equipment. Such restrictions may violate the First Amendment if they are unnecessary for traffic control or public safety, or if they interfere significantly with effective communication with the intended audience. A permit cannot be denied because the event is controversial or will express unpopular views.

 Specific problems

 If organizers have not obtained a permit, where can a march take place? If marchers stay on the sidewalks and obey traffic and pedestrian signals, their activity is constitutionally protected even without a permit. Marchers may be required to allow enough space on the sidewalk for normal pedestrian traffic and may not maliciously obstruct or detain passers-by.

 May I distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks? Yes. You may approach pedestrians on public sidewalks with leaflets, newspapers, petitions and solicitations for donations without a permit. Tables may also be set up on sidewalks for these purposes if sufficient room is left for pedestrians to pass. These types of free speech activities are legal as long as entrances to buildings are not blocked and passers-by are not physically and maliciously detained. However, a permit may be required to set up a table.

 Do I have a right to picket on public sidewalks? Yes, and this is also an activity for which a permit is not required. However, picketing must be done in an orderly, non-disruptive fashion so that pedestrians can pass by and entrances to buildings are not blocked.

 Can government impose a financial charge on exercising free speech rights? Some local governments have required a fee as a condition of exercising free speech rights, such as application fees, security deposits for clean-up, or charges to cover overtime police costs. Charges that cover actual administrative costs have been permitted by some courts. However, if the costs are greater because an event is controversial (or a hostile crowd is expected)—such as requiring a large insurance policy—then the courts will not permit it. Also, regulations with financial requirements should include a waiver for groups that cannot afford the charge, so that even grassroots organizations can exercise their free speech rights. Therefore, a group without significant financial resources should not be prevented from engaging in a march simply because it cannot afford the charges the City would like to impose.

 Do counter-demonstrators have free speech rights? Yes. Although counter-demonstrators should not be allowed to physically disrupt the event they are protesting, they do have the right to be present and to voice their displeasure. Police are permitted to keep two antagonistic groups separated but should allow them to be within the general vicinity of one another.

 Does it matter if other speech activities have taken place at the same location? Yes. The government cannot discriminate against activities because of the controversial content of the message. Thus, if you can show that similar events to yours have been permitted in the past (such as a Veterans or Memorial Day parade), then that is an indication that the government is involved in selective enforcement if they are not granting you a permit.

 What other types of free speech activity are constitutionally protected? The First Amendment covers all forms of communication including music, theater, film and dance. The Constitution also protects actions that symbolically express a viewpoint. Examples of these symbolic forms of speech include wearing masks and costumes or holding a candlelight vigil. However, symbolic acts and civil disobedience that involve illegal conduct may be outside the realm of constitutional protections and can sometimes lead to arrest and conviction. Therefore, while sitting in a road may be expressing a political opinion, the act of blocking traffic may lead to criminal punishment.

 What should I do if my rights are being violated by a police officer? It rarely does any good to argue with a street patrol officer. Ask to talk to a supervisor and explain your position to him or her. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else's activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions. If you do not obey an officer, you might be arrested and taken from the scene. You should not be convicted if a court concludes that your First Amendment rights have been violated.

KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WHAT TO DO IF YOUR RIGHTS ARE VIOLATED AT A DEMONSTRATION OR PROTEST

The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy. But it is also unfortunately true that governments and police can violate this right – through the use of mass arrests, illegal use of force, criminalization of protest, and other means intended to thwart free public expression.
Standing up for your right to protest can be challenging, especially when demonstrations are met with violence. But knowing your rights is the most powerful weapon you have against police abuse. Read on to learn what you need to know before heading out to exercise your constitutionally protected right to protest.

Q.Can my free speech be restricted because of what I say — even if it is controversial?
A.
No. The First Amendment prohibits restrictions based on the content of speech. However, this does not mean that the Constitution completely protects all types of speech in every circumstance. Police and government officials are allowed to place certain narrowly drawn "time, place and manner" restrictions on the exercise of First Amendment rights — for example, permit requirements for large groups using public parks or limits on the loudness of sound amplifiers. Any such restrictions must apply to all speech regardless of its point of view.

Q.Where can I engage in free speech activity?
A.
Generally, all types of expression are constitutionally protected in traditional "public forums" such as streets, sidewalks, and parks. In addition, you may have a right to speak in other public locations that the government has opened up for unrestricted public speech, such as plazas in front of government buildings.

Q.How about on private property?
A.
The general rule is that the owners of private property can set rules for speech on that property. If you disobey the property owner's rules, they can order you off their property (and have you arrested for trespassing if you do not comply). But your speech may not be restricted if it is taking place on your own property or with the consent of the property owner.

Q.Do I need a permit before I engage in free speech activity?
A.
Not usually. However, certain types of events require permits. For example:
  • A march or parade that does not stay on the sidewalk, and other events that require blocking traffic or street closure;
  • A large rally requiring the use of sound amplifying devices; or
  • A rally at certain designated parks or plazas.
Many permit procedures require that the application be filed several weeks in advance of the event. However, the First Amendment prohibits such an advance notice requirement from being used to prevent protests in response to recent news events. Also, many permit ordinances give too much discretion to the police or city officials to impose conditions on the event, such as the route of a march or the sound levels of amplification equipment. Such restrictions may violate the First Amendment if they are unnecessary for traffic control or public safety, or if they interfere significantly with effective communication to the intended audience. A permit cannot be denied because the event is controversial or will express unpopular views.

Q.If organizers have not obtained a permit, where can a march take place?
A.
If marchers stay on the sidewalks and obey traffic and pedestrian signals, their activity is constitutionally protected even without a permit. Marchers may be required to allow enough space on the sidewalk for normal pedestrian traffic and may not maliciously obstruct or detain passers-by.

Q.May I distribute leaflets and other literature on public sidewalks without a permit?
A.
Yes. You may approach pedestrians on public sidewalks with leaflets, newspapers, petitions, and solicitations for donations without a permit. These types of free speech activities are legal as long as entrances to buildings are not blocked and passers-by are not physically and maliciously detained. However, a permit may be required to set up tables or other physical structures.

Q.Do I have a right to picket on public sidewalks?
A.
Yes, and this is also an activity for which a permit is not required. However, picketing must be done in an orderly, non-disruptive fashion so that pedestrians can pass by and entrances to buildings are not blocked.

Q.What do I do if I get stopped by the police?
A.
Stay calm, be polite, and don't run. Don't argue, resist, or obstruct the police, even if you are innocent or you believe that the police are violating your rights. In some states, you must give your name if asked to identify yourself, but you do not have to provide an ID or other paperwork. Make sure to keep your hands where police can see them. Point out that you are not disrupting anyone else's activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions. Ask if you are free to leave. If the officer says yes, calmly and silently walk away.
Q.And if I'm under arrest?
A.
Do not resist arrest, even if you believe the arrest is unfair. If you are under arrest, you have a right to ask why. Otherwise, say you wish to remain silent and ask for a lawyer immediately. Don't give any explanations or excuses. Don't say anything, sign anything, or make any decisions without a lawyer. You have the right to make a local phone call, and if you're calling your lawyer, police are not allowed to listen.

Q.Can I be searched?
A.
You never have to consent to a search of yourself or your belongings. Police may "pat down" your clothing if they suspect you have a weapon, and may search you after an arrest. You should not physically resist, but you have the right to refuse consent for any further search. If you do explicitly consent, it can affect you later in court.

Q.What do I do if my rights have been violated?
A.
Remember: the street is not the place to challenge police misconduct. Don't physically resist officers or threaten to file a complaint. As soon as you can, write down everything you remember, including officers' badge and patrol car numbers, which agency the officers were from, and any other details. Get contact information for witnesses. If you are injured, take photographs of your injuries (but seek medical attention first). Once you have this information, you can file a written complaint with the agency's internal affairs division or civilian complaint board; in many cases, you can file a complaint anonymously if you wish. You can also seek the assistance of an attorney or the ACLU.

Q.Do I have the right to photograph or videotape during protests?
A.
Yes. When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to photograph anything that is in plain view. That includes pictures of federal buildings, transportation facilities, and the police. When you are on private property, the property owner may set rules about the taking of photographs or video. Police officers may not confiscate or demand to view your digital photographs or video without a warrant, nor may they delete your photographs or video under any circumstances. However, they may legitimately order citizens to cease activities that are truly interfering with legitimate law enforcement operations. KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE DETAINED FOR TAKING PHOTOGRAPHS
Taking photographs and video of things that are plainly visible in public spaces is a constitutional right—and that includes transportation facilities, the outside of federal buildings, and police and other government officials carrying out their duties.
Unfortunately, law enforcement officers have been known to ask people to stop taking photographs of public places. Those who fail to comply have sometimes been harassed, detained, and arrested. Other people have ended up in FBI databases for taking innocuous photographs of public places. 
The right of citizens to record the police is a critical check and balance. It creates an independent record of what took place in a particular incident, one that is free from accusations of bias, lying, or faulty memory. It is no accident that some of the most high-profile cases of police misconduct have involved video and audio records.
Relatedly, artistic expression should never be chilled out of fear of unwarranted police scrutiny. No one should ever find an FBI agent on their doorstep just because they photographed public art.
Through litigation, public education, and other forms of advocacy, the ACLU has defended the rights of photographers and all camera-wielding individuals to document freely.

Q.Can government impose a financial charge to exercise free speech rights?
A.
Some local governments have required a fee as a condition on larger groups exercising their free speech rights, such as application fees, security deposits for clean-up, or charges to cover overtime police costs. Charges that cover actual administrative costs have been permitted by some courts. However, government may not charge higher fees because an event is controversial (or a hostile crowd is expected to react to the speech).

Q.What if we can't afford the fees?
A.
Group fee applications should include a waiver for groups that cannot afford the charge, so that even grassroots organizations can exercise their free speech rights. Therefore, a group without significant financial resources should not be prevented from engaging in a march simply because it cannot afford the charges the City would like to impose.

Q.Do counter-demonstrators have free speech rights?
A.
Yes. Although counter-demonstrators should not be allowed to physically disrupt the event they are protesting, they do have the right to be present and to voice their displeasure. Police are permitted to keep two antagonistic groups separated but should allow them to be within the general vicinity of one another.

Q.Does it matter if other speech activities have taken place at the same location?
A.
Yes. The government cannot discriminate against activities because of the controversial content of the message. Thus, if you can show that similar events to yours have been permitted in the past (such as a Veterans or Memorial Day parade), then that is an indication that the government is involved in discriminatory enforcement if they are not granting you a permit.

CLICK HERE FOR KNOW YOUR RIGHTS: WHAT TO DO IF YOU'RE STOPPED BY POLICE, IMMIGRATION AGENTS OR THE FBI