There have been many nationally-reported protests over the last year here
in St. Louis, which have ranged from peaceful to violent. Although you
do have a constitutional right to protest peacefully and make your voice
heard, many protestors push the limits of what is legally-protected free
speech. In this blog, we discuss five of the most common reasons why protestors
may be arrested.
1. Entering The Street Without A Permit
This is perhaps the most common reason why protestors get arrested. When
a protest requires a street to be closed, authorities must work to reroute
traffic, change bus schedules, and may need to plan emergency routes if
a hospital or fire station will be blocked. While you may be tempted to
veer off the sidewalk, this will likely result in an arrest.
2. Blocking Sidewalks, Stairways, Or Other Paths
You won’t typically need a permit if your protest stays entirely
on sidewalks, and does not violate traffic laws. However, it’s important
to make sure that you leave enough room for other passers-by to use the
sidewalks and public walkways. You may not block pedestrian traffic, or
attempt to intentionally obstruct or detain pedestrians.
3. Making Too Much Noise Without a Permit
Most cities have noise ordinances, and devices such as bullhorns and megaphones
can definitely violate these restrictions. If you need to use such devices,
you should obtain a permit from your local government in advance of the
protest. Law enforcement is given quite a bit of discretion in this area,
so it’s important to tread carefully.
4. Damaging Property
This one is a no-brainer, yet many people vandalize both public and private
property in the height of a passionate protest. In today’s digital
age, police have effectively been able to identify vandals from cell phone
video footage. Protest, but make sure you do so peaceably!
5. Defying Police Instructions
Perhaps the most controversial reason why many protestors are arrested
is for defying orders or instructions from the police. When a protest
is focused on bringing awareness to police violence, it’s easy to
see how things can get contentious. The best thing to do is comply, and
stay free to protest another day – if you feel that the instructions
are a violation of your civil rights, you should contact a St. Louis criminal
defense lawyer immediately.
Arrested in St. Louis or the surrounding areas? Call (314) 272-3368 today
for tough defense.