Protesting? Know your Rights!

Updated: Jul 22, 2020

Keeping our promise to share resources and legal advice about the current civil unrest, the Good Counsel Civil Rights team is sharing information and resources from well-established and well-respected civil rights organizations. Good Counsel Services is publishing this post to share and expand the informational reach of these guidelines.

Per the ACLU, as a protester, you have the right to:

  • Protest on public property (so long as you do not block access or interfere with other purposes of government property).

  • Hold signs and hand out flyers.

  • Photograph anything in plain view, including federal buildings and the police.

  • Police may not confiscate or demand to view photographs without a warrant.

  • March in the street (so long as you don’t obstruct car or pedestrian traffic).

If you are arrested, you have the right to:

  • Ask the officer what crime you are suspected of committing.

  • Remain silent. Anything you say to the police can be used against you.

  • Call a lawyer (consider writing a lawyer or legal aid organization’s number on your arm)

Important information to record for filing a complaint:

  • Officers’ badge and patrol car numbers

  • Contact information for witnesses

  • Photographs of any injuries

With regards to protecting your digital privacy, the Legal Aid Society advises the following:

  • Carry as few electronic devices as possible.

  • Disable face/fingerprint unlock on your phone. Use 6+ digit passcodes, preferably alphanumeric.

  • Don’t consent to a search of your devices. Do not unlock your device for police.

  • Use the Signal app to communicate with others. Enable the disappearing messages feature.

  • Turn off GPS, NFC, Bluetooth, WiFi, and any location services.

  • Review your social media privacy settings to limit who can see your posts and accounts.

  • Avoid tagging or posting identifiable images of people without their permission. Doing so puts activists, organizers, and other individuals at risk for additional surveillance and retaliation. Use your best judgment.

  • Wearing sunglasses and a hat with your face mask will make it more difficult for facial recognition to be used against you.

Numbers to call:

National Lawyers Guild Hotlines

National Bail Fund Network Directory

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