Protesting in Las Vegas, What Are Your Rights?
It’s not difficult to feel the tension bubbling up in society these days. Well-documented accounts of racial injustice and police brutality are just two of the issues propelling public demonstrations across the country. If you are considering stepping out to participate in such a protest, it would behoove you to be familiar with your rights and the laws and ordinances that exist here in Las Vegas.
The First Amendment
Without question, the backbone of our democracy is the right of citizens to peacefully protest based on the First Amendment. When citizens wish to challenge the status quo, this is often a key to change.
Aggression at Protests
Many protesters face counter-protesters with opposing views when they join in public protests. It is essential to understand that aggressive actions which inhibit others’ rights may lead to police interventions and, ultimately, the need for courts to weigh in. This is precisely the issue that is under the microscope in living rooms and courtrooms alike across the nation right now.
Here in Las Vegas, a recent ordinance bans people from bringing items that could be used as weapons to protests. The ban, however, does not include firearms, since local jurisdictions are at the mercy of the legislature when it comes to guns. Items on the list of prohibited materials include:
- Baseball bats;
- Empty containers that could be filled with hazardous materials;
- Sticks more than 2.5“ in diameter;
- Chains exceeding 6” in length.
Law enforcement officials are, unfortunately, tasked with challenging protesters in a number of ways. Most commonly, protesters are faced with:
- Police intimidation;
- Mass arrests;
- Unnecessary and illegal use of force;
- Establishing “free-speech zones;”
Gatherings that present a danger of disorder, rioting, or threats to public safety may legally be shut down as a last resort. Protesters must be given a reasonable amount of time to comply with any such order, be directed toward an exit route, and be advised of the consequences of failing to disperse prior to being arrested or charged with any crimes.
When do Organizers Need a Permit
Permits are required under specific circumstances:
- When street closures are necessary;
- When sound amplifying devices are used;
- When size limits are exceeded in plazas or parks.
If You Believe Your Rights were Violated
In the event you attend a protest and feel that your rights were violated, a key factor in proving your case may be documentation. That means thinking quickly in a moment of crisis and writing down key information:
- Officers’ badge numbers;
- Patrol car numbers and agency names;
- Names and contact information of any witnesses;
- Photographs of injuries.
Fighting for Justice
If your rights were violated, it may seem like David and Goliath when you’re up against a state or federal agency, and, in truth, the battle will not be easy. But at Lobo Law, fighting for your rights is what keeps us motivated. We will use aggressive, ethical, and often creative strategies in our efforts to achieve justice. To discuss your situation, schedule a confidential consultation with our Las Vegas criminal lawyers today.