Women's March Protesters: Know Your Protest Rights
The Women's March on Washington is scheduled for Saturday, January 21 -- the day after President-elect Donald Trump will be sworn in -- and is estimated to draw some 200,000 participants. While organizers stress they "do not intend to engage in any civil disobedience" and "expect all marchers to abide by all laws and any instruction of law enforcement," protestors may still have questions about those laws and instructions.
Organized marches should acquire permits to close streets along the path of the march. And while police may want to avoid arresting peacefully marching protestors, blocking traffic outside of permitted areas is technically illegal.
While handing out political flyers constitutes political speech, and is therefore protected by the First Amendment, the government may still place limits on the time, place, and manner. So if you're planning on handing out flyers at the march, you may want to consult local D.C. ordinances to make sure you're complying with the law.
No. Please don't bark at the police dogs.
Possibly. In a recent case, the Supreme Court ruled that the Secret Service is tasked with the president's safety, and is not responsible for ensuring equal time and space for pro- and anti-presidential speech. So don't be surprised if anti-Trump protestors are removed while pro-Trump supporters are not.
Hopefully it doesn't come to this, but there are a few scenarios where police are permitted to use tear gas to disperse a crowd. The situations allowing for the use of firearms or deadly force are far fewer.
If you are arrested during the march, make sure you know what your rights are and make sure you exercise them.
- Find Civil Rights Lawyers Near You (FindLaw's Lawyer Directory)
- Martin Luther King's Civil Disobedience Legacy (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Not-So-Free Speech: 5 Limits on 1st Amendment Rights (FindLaw's Law and Daily Life)
- Protest Arrests: When Free Speech Becomes Disorderly Conduct (FindLaw Blotter)
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