California Civil Rights Protests – Wrongful Arrests & Injuries
The First Amendment gives people the right to freedom of speech and assembly. Unfortunately, the police sometimes violate this right in a variety of methods intended to prevent expression of people’s First Amendment rights. Recently, challenges to the right to protest have come in many forms. Police have thwarted demonstrations through mass wrongful arrests, illegal use of force for dispersal, or curfews.
Lawyers For The People represents clients who have had their rights violated during protests by either being injured or wrongfully arrested by police.
Have You Been Victimized By Police?
Lawyers For The People represents clients who have been victimized by police when exercising their civil rights. If you have a potential claim or legal question.
Protestors – Know Your Rights
Public Vs. Private Property
Your First Amendment rights are strongest in public areas such as streets, sidewalks, and parks. On private property, these rights are subject to the owner of the property. You are allowed to protest on sidewalks and streets, so long as you do not block traffic from cars or pedestrians.
Photography & Videography of Protests
Similar to the rules above, the use of photography and videography is allowed in public spaces so long as you are there legally. On private property, these rules are subject to the property owner.
Potential Areas For A Civil Rights Claim
In order for a police officer to arrest an individual, they need to have a reason. A person must have been witnessed breaking the law or be suspected of attempting to commit a crime for an officer to be allowed to arrest them. In the event that police begin arresting people following a dispersal order, they must follow certain rules.
Use Of Force & Dispersal
In the event that police believe that a protest may become violent or lead to other criminal activity, they may issue an order of dispersal. This is viewed as a last resort for police officers. The danger must be clear and present, and police must follow a protocol for how they carry this out.
Protestors must be given a reasonable opportunity to comply with the dispersal order as well as clear directions. They must be given plenty of time to safely leave, as well as a clear path to the exit. If police officers don’t follow these rules or use excessive force, there could be grounds for a civil rights case.
Common injuries associated with improper handling of dispersal or excessive use of force on protestors include:
Tear Gas & Pepper Spray Injuries
Police often use these items to thwart protests, however, they must abide by the protocols of use for both. The use of either of these deterrents can cause serious damage if used negligently. For victims of tear gas use, there can be severe and sometimes permanent damage to the eyes.
Pepper spray victims can also have permanent eye damage. Both deterrents also can cause damage to people with respiratory problems or possibly be fatal in serious cases of negligence.
The damage from rubber bullets can be extremely dangerous. Their devastating damage has led to a significant outcry for their banning as a deterrent for protests. If a negligent officer uses them improperly, they can lead to serious eye damage or even be fatal.
What to Do If You Have Been Victimized While Protesting
Seek Medical Attention (If Necessary)
Lawyers For The People always advocates seeking medical attention immediately if you have been injured during a protest. A doctor can help document your injuries and get you on the path to recovery
To improve potential civil rights claim, gather as much information as you can during and after an incident.
1. Names, badge numbers, and police car numbers of any involved officers
2. Contact information for witnesses or other victims
3. Take as many photos and videos as you can
Call A Civil Rights Attorney
If you or someone you know have had their rights as a protestor violated by police, you may have grounds for a civil lawsuit. If you have any questions about how to move forward with a civil claim, Lawyers For The People can help you figure out your next steps. Our legal consultation is free.