The Importance of Protests
Protests are a longstanding tradition of the American people, with roots going back to the Revolutionary War. In addition to freedom of speech and religion, the right to peacefully assemble is one of the U.S. Constitution's five guaranteed freedoms. Though we aren't throwing tea into the Boston Harbor anymore, there are still certain injustices that the populous deems necessary for protest.
Top 3 Questions About Protesting
With the recent surge in this form of political activity, it's understandable that many may have questions about the extent to which the Constitution protects them. Here are the top three most frequently asked questions about protesting:
1. When is Protesting Illegal?
While the act of protesting itself is not illegal, property damage and violent actions are still subject to arrest. These actions are not protected by the first amendment and can come with some pretty severe consequences. Other prohibited protest actions include theft or looting, assault, and harassment.
2. Where Can I Protest?
Public property is fair game for demonstrations, sit-ins, or other protests. This means that most city sidewalks can be used for protesting, so long as you do not create a public safety issue by going into the street or blocking building entrances. However, if you want to demonstrate in the street, a permit is usually required by local law enforcement.
In terms of private property, protesting is legal if the owner gives permission.
3. How am I Supposed to Interact With Law Enforcement During Protests?
If you are involved in a protest that law enforcement members show up to, their ultimate goal is to prevent it from becoming violent. Regardless of whether the action of protesting is legal, the police may stop you if they have reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. Some other things you should be aware of when interacting with law enforcement include:
- You can legally video law enforcement officers who are on duty.
- You do not have to show ID to a police officer who stops and asks for it unless you are under arrest.
How Our Pennsylvania Attorneys Can Help
With the influx of protests and arrests at these events throughout 2020, it's crucial that now more than ever, you know your rights as a protester. If you or a loved one believe these rights were violated, our Easton personal injury attorneys are here for you. Call (610) 285-1963 so our team can evaluate your case.