As if this year’s race to the White House could not get any more dramatic or contentious, Kansas City police in Missouri pepper sprayed a group of protestors outside Donald Trump’s rally. According to the Kansas City police, they did it to break up two large groups of people who were ready to fight. They also claimed that they arrested two people for failing to follow the law. Meanwhile, inside the event, Trump was continually interrupted by protesters, who were quickly escorted out by police. The move by police marks yet another moment of conflict at a Trump rally. Chaos ensued earlier in the same week when he canceled his campaign stop at the University of Illinois in Chicago after protesters flooded the pavilion.
Pepper spraying protestors is a rare occurrence when it come to presidential campaign events, but it is becoming more and more common in this election cycle. This week, the NYPD pepper sprayed a crowd of protestors that were marching towards the Trump International Tower. There were thousands of protesters walking from Central Park to the Trump tower.
Trump has said during his Kansas rally that he wants charges filed against all the people protesting him. In addition to police force, his rallies bore witness to violence in Arizona and Ohio, and his campaign is notorious for violent and racially charged rhetoric.
It is Still Your Constitutional Right to Engage in Protests and Rallies
Protesting and rallying is covered under the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment and is considered an exercise of free speech. This means you have a constitutional right to engage in peaceful protesting in traditional public forums such as streets, sidewalks, and parks. However, California, like many other states, may impose restrictions on this right by requiring things like police permits in order to march in streets and block traffic. This is constitutional as long as the permit requirements are reasonable, and treat all groups the same no matter their message.
Generally, you have the right to distribute leaflets, carry signs, and collect petition signatures. You may not threaten or incite others to violence in your free speech activity. However, under the USA Patriot Act, non-US citizens who are not permanent residents can be investigated solely because of their First Amendment activities. Immigrants who choose to engage in a protest or march should carry with them the number of an immigration attorney, friends, and relatives.
San Diego Constitutional Law and Criminal Defense Lawyer
The Law Offices of David M. Boertje handles all misdemeanor and felony cases, including arrests associated with rallies and protests. Unfortunately, it is more and more common now for police to discourage first amendment activity by using force, curfews, or corralling them into “free speech zones.” Mr. Boertje will zealously defend your constitutional rights. If you have been arrested and charged for resisting arrest, disobeying the law, or disturbing the peace at a protest, contact us for a free and confidential consultation today. We will fight for you.