Protests Popping Up, What Are Protesters Rights?

UNDATED -- After four days of unrest, President Barack Obama made a statement about the situation in Ferguson, Missouri. In part, he said, "There is never an excuse for violence against police or for those who would use this tragedy as a cover for vandalism or looting. There is also no excuse for police to use excessive force against peaceful protests."

These scenes have people nationwide talking about police departments' use of force and what role protesters play in clashes. It's not the first time we've seen issues at protests in the recent past. From Raleigh's Moral Monday protests, to protests after Trayvon Martin's death, even to the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011, there have been peaceful protests, and those that have ended in violence. So 2 Wants to Know wanted to take a look at what are protester's rights.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, your speech is protected by the first amendment. But police and government officials can restrict where and when you can protest. So if the protest breaks the law, or if you're on private property and the owner says you're trespassing, you could be arrested.

If an officer asks you to move, and you feel your rights are being violated, the ACLU says it rarely does any good to argue. If you don't obey an officer, you might be arrested. But you should not be convicted if a court concludes your First Amendment rights were violated.

For more, see the ACLU's guidelines on protests and demonstrations.

For more coverage of the situation in Ferguson, stay with WFMY News 2 and KSDK, our sister station in St. Louis, Missouri.


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