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Women's March Protesters: Know Your Protest Rights

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

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.

Is Barking at Police Dogs Protected Free Speech?

No. Please don't bark at the police dogs.

Can Secret Service Arrest You for Protesting the President?

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.

When Can Police Open Fire on Protesters?

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.

Arrested at a Protest? What Are Your Rights?

If you are arrested during the march, make sure you know what your rights are and make sure you exercise them.

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