If you’re like most people, you’ve seen the protests – and the resulting arrests – that are sweeping across the nation. But what happens if you protest in Illinois? Do protesters have rights?
Here’s what you need to know about protesters’ rights in Illinois.
Protesters’ Rights in Illinois
Under the First Amendment to the Constitution, you have the right to assemble and express your views by protesting. That’s true whether you’re protesting the police, the government, another party’s political views or the price of sandwiches at a sandwich shop you don’t like.
But before you protest, you need to know a few things – just so you’re sure about your own rights (and where they end).
As a protester, you have the right to protest in “traditional public forums,” like on the sidewalk, the street or the park. For the most part, you have the right to speak your mind and carry your sign on other public property, like the area in front of a government building – but only as long as you’re not blocking access to it or interfering with the purpose of the property.
What About Protesting on Private Property?
The private property owner has the right to set rules about speech on his or her property. The government is not allowed to restrict your speech if it’s taking place on your own property or if it’s taking place on property that someone else owns when that person has consented to your speech.
Can You Counterprotest?
Counterprotesters have the same rights to free speech that protesters do. Police have to treat protesters and counterprotesters equally. However, you need to know that the police do have the right to keep groups separated.
Can You Photograph Police During a Protest?
You absolutely have the right to photograph the police if you’re lawfully present in any public space. That means if you’re legally protesting and you want to take pictures of a police line, you can.
However, things can get sticky if the police say they’ve determined that you and other protesters are there illegally, which they have done in many of the nonviolent protests across the country. If police decide that a protest is violent, or that it presents an immediate threat, they can declare that it’s an “unlawful assembly.” When that happens, the police can order people to leave, and they can arrest people who don’t leave.
Were You Arrested for Protesting?
If you’ve been arrested for protesting, we may be able to help you. You have rights – Constitutional rights – and we’ll be happy to talk to you about your situation and determine whether the police violated those rights by arresting you. We can argue in court on your behalf and help you get the best possible outcome for your case. Just call us at 847-920-4540 or fill out the form below to speak with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney now.