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The Revolution will not be televised. Sam Harvey. **Things highlighted in red you may want to write down in your book**. The First Amendment & the Right to Protest. Right to Peaceful Assembly: the right for people to come together and express and defend their interests

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the revolution will not be televised

The Revolution will not be televised

Sam Harvey

**Things highlighted in red you may want to write down in your book**

the first amendment the right to protest
The First Amendment & the Right to Protest
  • Right to Peaceful Assembly: the right for people to come together and express and defend their interests
  • Freedom of Association: the right to join groups for the purpose of engaging in constitutionally protected activities
  • Right to Petition: the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances
  • Freedom of Speech: the right to express one’s views regardless of their content/message or if others disagree
expressive conduct
“Expressive Conduct”

Public demonstrations that consist of communication of views through the use of picketing, marching, distributing pamphlets, addressing publicly assembled audiences, and other forms of protest

Protesters who communicate ideas by conduct (i.e. marches) are less protected than people who communicate their ideas by “pure speech” like speaking.

methods of controlling protests
Methods of Controlling Protests

“First Amendment” Zones or “Free Speech” Zones: Theseare ways to confine the open expression of ideas to small areas of public property.

Permit or Licensing System: A protest permitis permission granted by a governmental agency for a demonstration to be held in a particular location at a specific time.

Kettling Techniques: This is when police officers wearing riot gear use their bodies to form a barrieraround a group of protesters. The area inside the cordon is called a kettleand the process of enclosing protesters in this way is called kettling.

limitations restrictions on the right to protest
Limitations/Restrictions on the Right to Protest
  • Time, Place, & Manner: allow the government to control when, where, & how people protest & express their views
  • Public Forum Doctrine: the government regulates the exercise of free speech in traditional public places
  • Prior Restraint (i.e. the Permit System): actions by the government that prohibit expression before it can happen

Limit how and when protesters get to express their views

Usually “national security” is the reason

Government can impose time, place, & manner restrictions

time place manner restrictions
Time, Place, & Manner Restrictions
  • The Supreme Court of the United States has established a four-part test to decide the constitutional validity of time, place, and manner regulation of expressive conduct in a public forum.
  • The four-part test is as followed:
    • The regulation must serve an important government interest
    • The government interest served by the regulation must be unrelated to the suppression of a particular message
    • The regulation must be narrowly tailored to serve this interest
    • The regulation must leave open sufficient alternative means to communicate the message
public forum doctrine
Public Forum Doctrine
  • A public forum is a place that has, by tradition or practice, been held out for general use by the public for First Amendment-related purposes.
  • Regarding the regulation of expressive conduct, the government can’t fully close off all avenues for public protest or restrict access to public forums based on the content of the message.
  • Traditional Public Forums:
    • The government cannot ban expression completely in the traditional public forum.
    • A traditional or open, public forum is a place with a long tradition of freedom of expression, such as a public park or a street corner.
  • Limited (or designated) Public Forums:
    • These are places with a more limited history of expressive activity, usually only for certain groups or topics such as a university meeting hall or a city-owned theater.
    • The government, in dedicating the forum for expressive purposes, may adopt reasonable limitations on who may use the forum.
    • The government is under no First Amendment obligation to have opened a limited forum.
  • Closed Public Forums:
    • These are places that, traditionally, haven’t been open to public expression, such as a jail or a military base.
    • Governmental restrictions on access to a nonpublic forum will be upheld as long as they are reasonable and not based on a desire to suppress a particular viewpoint.
permit system
Permit System
  • The permit system is a form of prior restraint and as such prevents communication from ever being heard.
  • The only legitimate reason for denying a permit would be if the protesters had previously engaged in violent or destructive behavior or if there is evidence that there will be violence.
  • Permits limit how and where protesters meet, so it’s not hard to imagine that this system has been used by the government for political intentions.
  • Permits cannot be politically biased.
  • Where voices are muted makes a huge difference as to whichvoices get heard.
law enforcement techniques
Law Enforcement Techniques

Infiltration (of activist groups)

Surveillance (of activist groups, their activities, members, etc.)

Mass Arrests: This is used to disrupt protest movements by entangling protesters and their lawyers in costly and time-consuming legal battles.

Excessive Force: Force should only be used where strictly necessary and only to the degree absolutely necessary. Police officers are required to use the minimum amount of force needed to achieve a legitimate purpose, but it’s easy for them to abuse their power when things start to overwhelm them and/or get out of hand.

Barricades, Pens, Cages, Protective Bubbles, & Nets: These are used to control and discipline dissent.

Use of Nonlethal or Less Lethal Weapons (i.e. pepper spray, tear gas, rubber or plastic bullets, shotguns that shoot bean bags filled with lead pellets, batons, etc.)

Use of Conducted Energy Devices (i.e. Tasers or stun guns)

law enforcement s responsibilities
Law Enforcement’s Responsibilities

They have to balance the people’s First Amendment rights to protest and express their views with the concerns of:

Public Safety

National Security


Government Interests

  • Their obligations include to:
  • Keep things under control
  • Know how to react quickly and responsibly if things get out of hand
  • Not to let their own opinions get involved in the protest that they are involved in monitoring
  • Stay neutral
  • Protect the constitutional rights of the demonstrators
how to protect your rights while protesting
How to Protect Your Rights while Protesting
  • Remain peaceful!
  • Be aware of your surroundings and stay alert
  • Don’t engage in illegal activity
  • Make sure you’re obeying traffic and pedestrian laws
  • Stay where you are legitimately allowed:
    • Public sidewalks do not require a permit for marches, distributing leaflets, or picketing
    • You can be on private property as long as you obey the rules the owner sets forth (if you disobey you can be arrested)
    • All types of expression are constitutionally protected in traditional
    • "public forums" such as streets, sidewalks and parks
    • Additional public locations that the government has opened up to similar speech activities, including the plazas in front of government buildings
  • Make sure you apply for a permit (in advance) for any event that requires one such as:
    • A march or parade that doesn’t stay on the sidewalk, and other events that require blocking of traffic or street closure
    • A large rally that involves the use of sound-amplifying devices; or
    • A rally at certain designated parks or plazas
how to protect your rights while protesting cont
How to Protect Your Rights while Protesting (Cont.)

If your rights are being violated by a police officer…

Do not argue with him; it’ll do no good!

Ask to talk to their supervisor and explain your position to him or her

Point out that you’re not disrupting anyone else's activity and that the First Amendment protects your actions

Keep in mind that if you don’t obey an officer, you may be arrested

However, you shouldn’t be convicted if the court concludes that your First Amendment rights were violated

how to protect your rights while protesting cont1
How to Protect Your Rights while Protesting (Cont.)

Know your rights and don’t be taken advantage of…

  • Governments can impose financial fees as a condition for exercising protest rights such as application fees, security deposits for clean-up, or charges to cover overtime police costs. Charges that cover actual administrative costs have been permitted by some courts; however, if the costs are greater because an event is controversial (or a hostile crowd is expected), the courts won’t allow the fees.
  • Counter-demonstrators have free speech rights, too. They have the right to be present and voice their displeasure. But, counter-demonstrators should not be allowed to physically disrupt the event they are protesting. Police are allowed to keep two opposed groups separated, but ought to let them be within the general vicinity of one another.
  • If you’re not being granted a permit to protest at a particular site and can show that similar events to yours have been permitted there in the past (like a Veterans Parade), then that is an indication that the government is involved in (illegal)selective enforcement. The government is NOT allowed to discriminate against activities because of the controversial content of the message. You have the same right to be heard as anyone else!
warning even if you do everything right
Warning: Even if you do everything right…

Obeying all of these principles still doesn’t mean that you won’t be subjected to violations of your rights. However, what it does mean is that you would have done everything right and that the law enforcement/government was entirely in the wrong and that you have a real chance in court to fight it and stand up for yourself.

history of protest movements
History of Protest Movements

Civil Rights Movement (’60s)

Vietnam (’60s-’70s)

history of protest movements cont
History of Protest Movements (Cont.)

Seattle WTO (1999)

Occupy Wall Street (2011-2012)

importance of protests

Importance of Protests

Why are protests important to society?

“Without debate, without criticism, no administration and no country can succeed and no republic can survive.” – John F. Kennedy

what do you think protesting means to the world today
What do you think Protesting means to the world Today?

“Protest and anger practically always derives from hope, and the shouting out against injustice is always in the hope of those injustices being somewhat corrected and a little more justice established.” – John Berger



Harvey, Sam. (2013). Human rights in the United States: the war on dissent and how to fight it.

LSA Senior Project Paper.