Ever since the death of David Jones in June 2017, protests by several activist groups in Philadelphia have encountered unwanted attention from law enforcement. In particular, the arrest of Black Lives Matter activist Asa Khalif in November highlights the recurrent theme of police officers arresting individuals who attempt to exercise their First Amendment rights.
A Growing Issue
What are your rights when you decide to demonstrate to confront injustice? Empower yourself by knowing what the law says you can and cannot do when you protest.
Lawful Protest Activities
Pennsylvania and Philadelphia laws give you the right to engage in these activities while protesting:
- Speak freely on public property
- Address other protesters in the area that hold the opposite view
- Carry signs that express viewpoints of the cause
- Hand out informative literature about the protest and/or issue
- Block an area in public if you have obtained a permit to do so
Prohibited Protest Activities
Increase your chances of staying safe and avoiding arrest by the police, it’s important to know what behavior is prohibited by law in Philadelphia. Here are activities which can get you arrested:
- Make threats against people or property
- Occupy or prevent access to private property
- Refuse to leave an area after a police officer has ordered you to do so
- Destroy public or private property
- Behave violently against any individual
If you engage in lawful protest activities, law enforcement officials in Philadelphia should not have grounds to arrest you. If you believe that your rights to peacefully protest were violated, you may want to reach out to a civil rights attorney for advice and help.