Freedom of Speech & Arrests

people protesting

It’s obvious that 2020 has already had its fair share of historical moments, and the year is only halfway through. It started with the COVID-19 pandemic in February, which is still impacting public health today, and was followed by mass protests across the nation in response to the murder of George Floyd and many other innocent people. As a result, thousands of people were arrested, and many businesses suffered.

Key Takeaways from National Protests

George Floyd’s murder triggered different responses across the nation: Peaceful protests, social media campaigns, donations, extensive news coverage, citywide curfews and looting. Although these only describe some of the many reactions to Mr. Floyd’s death, it is evident that people exercise their First Amendment rights differently, especially during a time of chaos and hysteria.

This doesn’t mean one expression is better than the other, although many argue that the looting isn’t a reaction to Mr. Floyd’s murder but rather a good opportunity to commit crimes. Nonetheless, many protestors were arrested for expressing their First Amendment rights and/or doing so in violation of their city’s curfew.

Lawful Restrictions on the First Amendment

In response to COVID-19, governments ordered places of worship to temporarily close and enacted curfew orders, as well as many other rules. This is arguably an infringement upon your First Amendment rights to freedom of religion and speech. But because public health is more important, governments could legally implement these regulations.

The same principle applies to protests: If public safety is at risk, governments can enforce restrictions to minimize the damage.

We recognize that arrests can be made for unlawful assembly and curfew violations, but we must not forget that these orders were initially implemented to regulate how citizens exercise their freedom of speech in order to mitigate looting, arson and vandalism. However, they also restrict people’s First Amendment rights: This is where we step in.

If you were arrested for participating in an unlawful assembly or a curfew violation, our criminal defense lawyer at the Law Offices of Evan E. Zelig, P.C. can help you.

Poor Responses to Good Intentions Require Legal Counsel

Thousands of people across the US have been arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights in violation of temporary curfew and assembly regulations. While these rules intended to protect people, they are also hurting people. As such, we are available 24/7 to provide the legal guidance and representation needed to help you overcome your arrest and any legal dispute you’re facing as a result of protesting.

We offer free consultations. Arrange a time to meet with us online or by calling (707) 418-5352!