Understanding your rights while protesting or observing

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 6:03 PM EDT
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As we continue to see protests across the nation, some remaining peaceful, others not so much. Many people are asking at what point does a protest become unlawful?

State attorney Bill Cervone says the laws pertaining to protests are pretty straight forward.

He says if you do things that start transgressing on other people’s right such as trespassing on private property, disrupting the normal flow of traffic in the street or even on the sidewalk, or causing a public disturbance you are potentially subject to being charged with those kind of violations.

He also says as a bystander, you can not just treat protestors like they are not there.

He says, “you cannot take advantage of a situation whether its because you disagree with the message the protestors are giving, whether its because you are in a rush to get wherever you are going, it is your responsibility to behave reasonably to those folks even if those folks are violating what would otherwise be expected.”

One final question a lot of people are asking is in terms of business owners and what their rights to protecting their business are from potential looters.

Cervone says “the rules regarding defense of property are not the same as rules regarding defending yourself. Somebody who wishes to confront protestors, even if they become potential looters does not have the right to simply start firing at unarmed individuals. You can not escalate the degree of violence to that in that sense.”

Cervone also says his office does not condone violent protests and will prosecute people vigorously who become violent.