While my boyfriend and I were talking about my posts and all of the comments, one thing that seemed clear was that no one really knew exactly what the rally participants could or couldn’t do, nor what the police could or couldn’t do. While everything I’ve posted had some research behind it, I decided today to reach out and make sure I was on the money with the things I was saying about what the rally participants could and couldn’t do or expect from the police. I first called the Thomas Merton Center, and while they appreciated the question, their suggestion was to call the ACLU. I’ve been in touch with the ACLU since the evening of the rally last week, and have passed their info to individuals who have contacted me about how to to get help for at least 1 of the people who was arrested. But I had never put this question out there as directly, so today I did.
The issue is critically important. Everyone deserves to give voice to their opinions and we can all speak out publicly, but what are the rules and the limits? Better to know before you go off protesting, and if it is too late for that, be prepared for the next time. The link below is to a PDF of a brochure/ instruction sheet that the ACLU has to pass out.
There are a few things I knew from working with the city on some other protests. You do not need a permit if you have less than 250 people, however a permit gives you a number of advantages. Here is how I put it to the ACLU:
For example, the police claimed that the group, while on Liberty Ave could not block the sidewalk. The group of rally participants opened a pathway about 3ft wide through the middle, but this wasn’t sufficient to the police. They also claimed that the crowd had to keep moving and turn the rally into a march, or move to the park where they wouldn’t be blocking traffic in any way.
The ACLU’s reply was to send me the PDF and added:
And no, you cannot block the sidewalk or impede pedestrian or vehicle traffic without a permit. And you have to keep moving.
Also, if you feel you were mistreated by the police, file a complaint and the ACLU can assist you with that if needed.