If you are among those taking to the streets to protest police brutality against people of color, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) wants you to know their rights, and the risks.
As you head out to protest, here’s what the ACLU says you need keep in mind:
- The right to protest is a fundamental human right guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution and the First Amendment.
- If you get stopped, ask if you are free to go. If the police say yes, calmly walk away.
- You have the right to record. The right to protest includes the right to record, including recording police doing their jobs.
- The police can order people to stop interfering with legitimate police operations, but video recording from a safe distance is not interfering.
- If you do get stopped, police cannot take or confiscate any videos or photos without a warrant.
- If you are videotaping, keep in mind that in some states the audio is treated differently than the images. But images and video images are always fully protected by the First Amendment.
- The police’s main job in a protest is to protect your right to protest and to de-escalate any threat of violence.
- If you get arrested, don’t say anything. Ask for a lawyer immediately. Do not sign anything and do not agree to anything without an attorney present.
- If you get arrested, demand your right to a local phone call. If you call a lawyer for legal advice, law enforcement is not allowed to listen. If you call anyone else, they may listen.
- Police cannot delete data from your device under any circumstances.
Even with the legal protections laid out above, protesting has real risks, particularly for black and brown people. Also keep in mind that as all this is going on, we’re still in the midst of a global pandemic and understand your health and the health of others may take priority. Wear a mask and keep 6 ft away from everyone.
So no matter what happens, remember your rights and stay safe.