All people in America have the right to protest. However, there are times when the police may arrest you during a protest if you violate the law.
If you want to protest without risk, it’s usually a good idea to get a permit or exception. If you don’t, then the police could decide to arrest you or others at the protest for:
- Disorderly conduct
- Obstructing traffic
- Other “catch-all” crimes
You may not think that it’s fair to be arrested at a protest, and in some cases, you could be right.
When does free speech lead to a disorderly conduct arrest?
Whenever someone protests, it’s important that they do not cause problems for others. A protest should not be violent and shouldn’t restrict people from entering a place of business freely.
You do have a right to free speech, but remember that the right to free speech is not absolute. You may be limited in public to assembling at certain times or in certain ways that are not disruptive to others.
These restrictions are in place to help prevent safety issues. There may also be restrictions to help keep the flow of traffic moving or to keep sidewalks clear of protesters.
Free speech is no longer free when protesters do not follow the orders they’re given by the police. In most cases, refusing to move into or stay in a designated protest area can lead to a citation for trespassing. Violating noise ordinances could lead to charges for disturbing the peace. Acting unruly or violently could also lead to a disorderly conduct arrest.
It’s important to note that these laws do have restrictions, so if you are arrested, it’s worth defending yourself. You do have a right to protest, and if you were doing so in accordance with the law, then you should be treated fairly and allowed to protest. If you believe that your rights were violated while protesting, you may want to consider looking into your legal rights to determine if you could file a claim against the police for their actions and a violation of your civil rights.