Unlawful Assembly at Protest: Legal Info

Unlawful Assembly at Protest:  Legal Info
(Failure to disperse)
by Sue Basko


UPDATES WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 30/ - DEC. 2, 2011: Police raided Occupy L.A. just after midnight this morning (November 30, 2011).  Many people had been saying for days prior that the eviction was scheduled to allow Sean Penn and Ryan Gosling to shoot a movie on the City Hall site.   There has been credible evidence for days to think this is likely.  

The raid on Occupy L.A. was horrifying.  An unlawful assembly was declared and people were given 10 minutes to clear the area.   This announcement followed the script that is given below.  The announcement was made several times by an officer walking around in the crowd with a megaphone, and was repeated in several languages.   People in the camp were given ample opportunity to leave and not be arrested.  Those who stayed were opting to be arrested for their political  purposes.

However, people who were trying to leave the area after the dispersal order, and after a second dispersal order was given several blocks away later in the night, were kettled, beaten, and arrested.  People are reporting that many protesters were chased down and arrested as they attempted to leave the perimeter area.  Photos and videos are  emerging, taken after people have been released from jail today (Dec. 2) showing serious injuries to hands and arms.

All of the arrestees thus far that I have seen interviewed have complained of being driven around for hours, not being allowed to use the bathroom, that people had zip-ties on much too tight, that people were denied medical care and medicines, that people were not given water for many hours or at all, that some people were not allowed to make phone calls, that some people were not allowed to see their lawyers, that most of the prisoners were fed little (such as two meals in 3 days), that officers denied them the right to use a toilet and so people had to urinate in their clothing and then had officers mocking them, that several women were placed in isolation for no valid reason, and that dangerous medical conditions were ignored and untreated, and other things.

Monday November 28, 2011: Last night at Occupy L.A., a police officer declared an unlawful assembly at First and Main Streets and issued an order to disperse.  What this means is that there were people in the intersection, they would not get out after being asked nicely repeatedly, and so an unlawful assembly was declared so anyone in the intersection could be arrested.  Keep in mind that the police had closed off the streets, so walkers felt comfortable using the space.   

After the dispersal order, the only ones left in the street were lines of police in riot gear, and a funny man named Juan riding a bicycle back and forth wearing some kind of big headdress made of palm tree husks.  That’s L.A.!  There was also a man who had climbed high onto a light pole, with an Anonymous mask on the back of his head, shouting through a megaphone.  The crowd was comprised of many media people with cameras, some protesters, and at least one very ardent provocateur woman.   

Unlawful assembly laws differ state to state, but most of them follow the same thread.  An assembly is a group of people who gather for some purpose or activity.  If that activity is illegal, it is an unlawful assembly. If the activity is legal, but turns unlawful or looks as if it might, it can be declared an unlawful assembly. 

 
California Penal Code Section 407.  Whenever two or more persons assemble together to do an unlawful act, or do a lawful act in a violent, boisterous, or tumultuous manner, such assembly is an unlawful assembly.

Boisterous or tumultuous” means “conduct that poses a clear and present danger of
imminent violence” or when the crowd is gathered to do an unlawful act. 

For example, last night at First and Main, there probably was not any danger of imminent violence, although the mix of people in the group was definitely a tinderbox and anything could have happened.  Even if not likely to be imminently violent, the crowd was gathered for an unlawful act, namely, to stand in the street.  Note that the street was closed off by police, so there was no vehicle traffic.  The police did not declare an unlawful assembly until about 4:40 am, in anticipation that soon cars would be driving downtown with people going to work. 

First and Main is near the downtown Skid Row area, where many severely mentally ill people and drug addicts reside.  The street protest seemed to be a mix of many media reporters, out-of-towners in to show support for Occupy L.A., and a collection of Skid Row street people.  In addition to this, there were several members of the crowd who seemed to be agents provocateurs or highly irrational or unpredictable.

One scowling woman with dirty blonde hair  kept arguing with everyone and trying to provoke violence.  There were hints that she was a paid provocateur, because at one point she was arguing that the police should evict the camp since they announced they were going to.  She seemed disappointed that the raid had not gone down at the stated deadline hour.  (As of December 3, she is now seen at the GAs.)

A group was chanting about taking the street. Some whackos were making chalk drawings at the feet of the police. (I thought: They probably think of themselves as "peaceful," when in fact, they were so disrespectful.)  Meanwhile, an intense man seemed to be hallucinating and kept screaming at the police that they were the Syrian army.  He was really scary.  In short, it was time to get these people off the streets and up onto the sidewalk.  Once the order was issued, a man, who had previously been ranting and saying he was Jesus Christ, lay down on the street in a crucifixion position, but was finally coaxed up by a friendly man. 

The only actual LA Occupiers I saw in this crowd were the ones that came out to ask the people to please leave the street and go back to the park.  Sadly, the worldwide media may present Occupy L.A. as this mélange of troubled people out in the street.

DISPERSAL ORDER.  Last night, the LAPD made a loud announcement giving a declaration of an unlawful assembly and an order to disperse.  After the order was given, anyone stepping into the street, even those legitimately using the crosswalk to cross, was subject to arrest.  The police had to announce several times that this applied to the media people as well.  After the order, the only non-police person left in the street was the kooky man on the bicycle doing a parade style ride back and forth.  He provided much laughter, until a half hour later, when finally, a police officer on a motorcycle yelled at him to get up on the sidewalk.   The poor guy jumped as if he had been merrily in his own world the whole time.

Please read these rules below, which are taken directly from the Oakland Police Department Crowd Control and Crowd Management Policy, a golden bit of information that any protester should download and read.  Please read the script that the police use to declare an unlawful assembly and issue an order to disperse.  It is the same announcement as that used last night by the LAPD.   

If you are ever at a protest where such an order is issued, pay special attention to how you are supposed to exit, and allow others to exit and not be kettled up.  Last night, a lot of people were trapped and unable to move away because they had a police riot line a few inches in front of them and a densely packed group of people behind them.  The people behind, many of  whom were reporters or photographers, were pushing forward to see what was happening, which, as already explained, was a funny man riding a bicycle.   

From:  Oakland Police Department Crowd Control and Crowd Management Policy
(I strongly recommend that you download and read this Oakland policy, no matter where you are. )

F. When an Unlawful Assembly May Be Declared

1. The definition of an unlawful assembly has been set forth in Penal Code Section 407 and interpreted by court decisions. The terms, “boisterous” and “tumultuous,” as written in Penal Code Section 407, have been interpreted as “conduct that poses a clear and present danger of imminent violence” or when the demonstration or crowd event is for the purpose of committing a criminal act.

The police may not disperse a demonstration or crowd event before demonstrators have
acted illegally or before the demonstrators pose a clear and present danger of imminent violence.

2. The mere failure to obtain a permit, such as a parade permit or sound permit, is not a sufficient basis to declare an unlawful assembly. There must be criminal activity or a clear and present danger of imminent violence.

3. The fact that some of the demonstrators or organizing groups have engaged in violent or unlawful acts on prior occasions or demonstrations is not grounds for declaring an assembly unlawful.

4. Unless emergency or dangerous circumstances prevent negotiation, crowd dispersal techniques shall not be initiated until after attempts have been made through contacts with the police liaisons and demonstration or crowd event leaders to negotiate a resolution of the situation so that the unlawful activity will cease and the First Amendment activity can continue.

5. If after a crowd disperses pursuant to a declaration of unlawful assembly and subsequently participants assemble at a different geographic location where the participants are engaged in non-violent and lawful First Amendment activity, such an assembly cannot be dispersed unless it has been determined that it is an unlawful assembly and the required official declaration has been adequately given.  

 G. Declaration of Unlawful Assembly

1. When the only violation present is unlawful assembly, the crowd should be given an opportunity to disperse rather than face arrest.

Crowd dispersal techniques shall not be initiated until OPD has made repeated announcements to the crowd, asking members of the crowd to voluntarily disperse and informing them that, if they do not disperse, they will be subject to arrest.

These announcements must be made using adequate sound amplification equipment in a
manner that will ensure that they are audible over a sufficient area. Announcements must be made from different locations when the demonstration is large and noisy. The dispersal orders should be repeated after commencement of the dispersal operation so that persons not present at the original broadcast will understand that they must leave the area.

The announcements shall also specify adequate egress or escape routes. Whenever possible, a minimum of two escape/egress routes shall be identified and announced.
It is the responsibility of the on-scene OPD commanders to ensure that all such announcements are made in such a way that they are clearly audible to the crowd.
 
2. Unless an immediate risk to public safety exists or significant property damage is occurring, sufficient time will be allowed for a crowd to comply with police commands before action is taken.

3. Dispersal orders should be given in English and in other languages that are appropriate for the audience.

4. The Incident Commander should ensure that the name of the individual making the dispersal order and the date/time each order was given is recorded.

5. Dispersal orders should not be given until officers are in position to support/direct crowd movement.

6. Personnel shall use the following Departmental dispersal order:

I am (rank/name), a peace officer for the City of Oakland. I hereby declare this to be an
unlawful assembly, and in the name of the people of the State of California, command all
those assembled at _____________ to immediately leave. If you do not do so, you may be arrested or subject to other police action, including the use of force which may result in serious injury.  Section 409 of the Penal Code prohibits remaining present at an unlawful assembly. If you remain in the area just described, regardless of your purpose, you will be in violation of Section 409. The following routes of dispersal are available (routes). You have _______ minutes to leave. If you refuse to move, you will be arrested. *If you refuse to move, chemical agents will be used. (Provide the chemical warning only if use is anticipated).

7. When a command decision is made to employ crowd dispersal techniques, attempts to obtain voluntary compliance through announcements and attempts to obtain cooperation through negotiation shall both be continued. At any point at which a crowd is dispersing, whether as a reaction to police dispersal techniques, through voluntary compliance, or as a result of discussion or negotiation with crowd leaders, OPD dispersal techniques shall be suspended and the crowd shall be allowed to disperse voluntarily. This directive does not preclude a command decision by OPD to reinstate dispersal techniques if crowd compliance ceases.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *

TO SUM UP:
What happens:
1) an unlawful assembly is declared.
2) an order to disperse is announced according to above script.
3) you have to leave or face arrest;
4) you  have to leave by the route they are telling you.  It is most likely going to be hard to hear that or understand that.
5) It is possible that kettling may take place.  This is very dangerous and do whatever you can to avoid situations where the police are kettling.




Kettling: What is it?

Kettling: What is it?
by Sue Basko

Kettling at a protest is when police form a cordon and squeeze protesters together to "capture" them.  Kettling is also when police form lines to keep protesters from escaping a certain perimeter.

ALSO - BE SURE TO WATCH THE VIDEOS AT BOTTOM OF PAGE.

Kettling is often illegal and/or dangerous.  If an order to disperse has been called after an unlawful assembly has been declared, the police are supposed let people leave.  Kettling may be considered a human rights violation because while kettled, people are often kept for hours without access to water, food, bathrooms, the ability to communicate with their families, etc.

People kettled in the Occupy protests have then often been kept for many hours without food, water, or toilet use.  Some have been severely beaten by police after being kettled.   Hundreds have had zip-ties placed too tightly on their wrists for many hours.  There are many reports of nerve damage and numbness to hands and fingers.

Police have started to use the term Frozen Zone, probably to try to avoid letting it be known they are engaged in dangerous kettling/ illegal tactics.  Frozen zone is an area into which no one will be let in or out, in other words, this is kettling with a set perimeter.  There can be smaller kettling within a frozen zone.  The idea of the existence of a frozen zone is also used by police as an excuse or reason to keep journalists and reporters out.  (At Chicago NATO 2012, the Federal Protective Service (FPS) used the term "Red Zone" to describe an area with many federal buildings that were being heavily guarded by the FPS, but movement within the zone was not restricted.)

Los Angeles November 2011: At the November 30, 2011 raid on Occupy L.A., an order to disperse was called for the park area.  Those not wishing to be arrested were told to leave.  A few hours later, a second order to disperse was called on a nearby street.  Many people have reported that, as they tried to leave, they were kettled by cordons of police.  Many people were arrested and/or beaten as they tried to leave.  These people left the area they were told to leave, only to meet up with traps laid for them blocks away.  Others were immediately trapped and arrested as they tried to follow the order to leave.  Please note there was no protester violence or property damage.  Scroll down to bottom of this page to watch video of woman describe her experience in the LA raid kettling.

Why?  In the Los Angeles situation, it appears the police were trying to get arrest numbers up to justify the expense of a huge raid involving 1400 officers in riot gear, helicopters,  etc.   The only way to do this was to arrest peaceful people simply trying to leave.   There is no other plausible explanation, since there was no violence or property damage occurring and no logical reason to keep people from freely leaving the area.  In this incident, the LAPD used the term frozen zone to explain their kettling tactics.

Oakland January 30, 2012:  In Oakland on January 30, 2012, police kettled hundreds of protesters on a street outside a YMCA.  A police officer announced over a loudspeaker that the people were under arrest for failure to disperse from an unlawful assembly and that the protesters were given 3 prior warnings and were now under arrest.  Spencer Mills, aka Oakfosho, reported that he heard no such warnings being given, and his  video coverage audio is in agreement that no such warnings were given, or were not given to that particular group in that location.   Out of the approximately 400 arrests that day, only 12 have resulted in charges being filed.  It certainly sounds as if about 380 people were arrested and subjected to hours of torment followed by hours or days in jail -- for no particular or legal reason.

Staying Safe:  You are more likely to stay safe at a protest if you avoid being near provocateur types.  Police will target in on them and you may be caught in the cauldron.  If you are near such people, move far away from them.  Also keep in mind that such provocateurs may be police plants.

If it is a sidewalk protest, stay on the sidewalk; do not walk into the street.  If someone is leading people into the street, it is a provocateur or police plant or just bad leadership.  In any case, there is no logical reason to follow.

Safety from Police.   When the police are creating lines of officers to keep people from leaving a protest, as was done at the Occupy L.A. eviction, it is confusing as to what to do.  Some people have reported that they politely cooperated as they were detained by a line of police,  only to find themselves being arrested and sent to jail for several days on bogus charges.  Their physical safety and human rights were violated while in custody.  Others ran to flee and were beaten.  Others maneuvered cleverly enough to evade capture.   In such a situation, it helps to have quick-thinking ninja skills.  It seems there are no right answers when wrong things are happening, and you need to do what you can to protect your own safety.

It seems a full outside investigation should be done on this L.A. incident. In other kettling incidents worldwide, there have been investigations and lawsuits.  Kettling is often considered illegal and a violation of human rights.  

 Wikipedia has a good article about other kettling incidents.






California Penal Code Section 403 - 420.1



California PENAL CODE 
SECTION 403-420.1 

403.  Every person who, without authority of law, willfully disturbs
or breaks up any assembly or meeting that is not unlawful in its
character, other than an assembly or meeting referred to in Section
302 of the Penal Code or Section 18340 of the Elections Code, is
guilty of a misdemeanor.



404.  (a) Any use of force or violence, disturbing the public peace,
or any threat to use force or violence, if accompanied by immediate
power of execution, by two or more persons acting together, and
without authority of law, is a riot.
(b) As used in this section, disturbing the public peace may occur
in any place of confinement. Place of confinement means any state
prison, county jail, industrial farm, or road camp, or any city jail,
industrial farm, or road camp, or any juvenile hall, juvenile camp,
juvenile ranch, or juvenile forestry camp.


404.6.  (a) Every person who with the intent to cause a riot does an
act or engages in conduct that urges a riot, or urges others to
commit acts of force or violence, or the burning or destroying of
property, and at a time and place and under circumstances that
produce a clear and present and immediate danger of acts of force or
violence or the burning or destroying of property, is guilty of
incitement to riot.
   (b) Incitement to riot is punishable by a fine not exceeding one
thousand dollars ($1,000), or by imprisonment in a county jail not
exceeding one year, or by both that fine and imprisonment.
   (c) Every person who incites any riot in the state prison or a
county jail that results in serious bodily injury, shall be punished
by either imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year,
or imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170.
   (d) The existence of any fact that would bring a person under
subdivision (c) shall be alleged in the complaint, information, or
indictment and either admitted by the defendant in open court, or
found to be true by the jury trying the issue of guilt, by the court
where guilt is established by a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, or
by trial by the court sitting without a jury.



405.  Every person who participates in any riot is punishable by a
fine not exceeding one thousand dollars, or by imprisonment in a
county jail not exceeding one year, or by both such fine and
imprisonment.


405a.  The taking by means of a riot of any person from the lawful
custody of any peace officer is a lynching.



405b.  Every person who participates in any lynching is punishable
by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for two,
three or four years.


406.  Whenever two or more persons, assembled and acting together,
make any attempt or advance toward the commission of an act which
would be a riot if actually committed, such assembly is a rout.



407.  Whenever two or more persons assemble together to do an
unlawful act, or do a lawful act in a violent, boisterous, or
tumultuous manner, such assembly is an unlawful assembly.



408.  Every person who participates in any rout or unlawful assembly
is guilty of a misdemeanor.



409.  Every person remaining present at the place of any riot, rout,
or unlawful assembly, after the same has been lawfully warned to
disperse, except public officers and persons assisting them in
attempting to disperse the same, is guilty of a misdemeanor.




409.3.  Whenever law enforcement officers and emergency medical
technicians are at the scene of an accident, management of the scene
of the accident shall be vested in the appropriate law enforcement
agency, whose representative shall consult with representatives of
other response agencies at the scene to ensure that all appropriate
resources are properly utilized. However, authority for patient care
management at the scene of an accident shall be determined in
accordance with Section 1798.6 of the Health and Safety Code.
   For purposes of this section, "management of the scene of an
accident" means the coordination of operations which occur at the
location of an accident.



409.5.  (a) Whenever a menace to the public health or safety is
created by a calamity including a flood, storm, fire, earthquake,
explosion, accident, or other disaster, officers of the Department of
the California Highway Patrol, police departments, marshal's office
or sheriff's office, any officer or employee of the Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection designated a peace officer by
subdivision (g) of Section 830.2, any officer or employee of the
Department of Parks and Recreation designated a peace officer by
subdivision (f) of Section 830.2, any officer or employee of the
Department of Fish and Game designated a peace officer under
subdivision (e) of Section 830.2, and any publicly employed full-time
lifeguard or publicly employed full-time marine safety officer while
acting in a supervisory position in the performance of his or her
official duties, may close the area where the menace exists for the
duration thereof by means of ropes, markers, or guards to any and all
persons not authorized by the lifeguard or officer to enter or
remain within the enclosed area. If the calamity creates an immediate
menace to the public health, the local health officer may close the
area where the menace exists pursuant to the conditions set forth in
this section.
   (b) Officers of the Department of the California Highway Patrol,
police departments, marshal's office or sheriff's office, officers of
the Department of Fish and Game designated as peace officers by
subdivision (e) of Section 830.2, or officers of the Department of
Forestry and Fire Protection designated as peace officers by
subdivision (g) of Section 830.2 may close the immediate area
surrounding any emergency field command post or any other command
post activated for the purpose of abating any calamity enumerated in
this section or any riot or other civil disturbance to any and all
unauthorized persons pursuant to the conditions set forth in this
section whether or not the field command post or other command post
is located near to the actual calamity or riot or other civil
disturbance.
   (c) Any unauthorized person who willfully and knowingly enters an
area closed pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) and who willfully
remains within the area after receiving notice to evacuate or leave
shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
   (d) Nothing in this section shall prevent a duly authorized
representative of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television
station or network from entering the areas closed pursuant to this
section.


409.6.  (a) Whenever a menace to the public health or safety is
created by an avalanche, officers of the Department of the California
Highway Patrol, police departments, or sheriff's offices, any
officer or employee of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection
designated a peace officer by subdivision (g) of Section 830.2, and
any officer or employee of the Department of Parks and Recreation
designated a peace officer by subdivision (f) of Section 830.2, may
close the area where the menace exists for the duration thereof by
means of ropes, markers, or guards to any and all persons not
authorized by that officer to enter or remain within the closed area.
If an avalanche creates an immediate menace to the public health,
the local health officer may close the area where the menace exists
pursuant to the conditions which are set forth above in this section.
   (b) Officers of the Department of the California Highway Patrol,
police departments, or sheriff's offices, or officers of the
Department of Forestry and Fire Protection designated as peace
officers by subdivision (g) of Section 830.2, may close the immediate
area surrounding any emergency field command post or any other
command post activated for the purpose of abating hazardous
conditions created by an avalanche to any and all unauthorized
persons pursuant to the conditions which are set forth in this
section whether or not that field command post or other command post
is located near the avalanche.
   (c) Any unauthorized person who willfully and knowingly enters an
area closed pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b) and who willfully
remains within that area, or any unauthorized person who willfully
remains within an area closed pursuant to subdivision (a) or (b),
after receiving notice to evacuate or leave from a peace officer
named in subdivision (a) or (b), shall be guilty of a misdemeanor. If
necessary, a peace officer named in subdivision (a) or (b) may use
reasonable force to remove from the closed area any unauthorized
person who willfully remains within that area after receiving notice
to evacuate or leave.
   (d) Nothing in this section shall prevent a duly authorized
representative of any news service, newspaper, or radio or television
station or network from entering the areas closed pursuant to this
section.


410.  If a magistrate or officer, having notice of an unlawful or
riotous assembly, mentioned in this Chapter, neglects to proceed to
the place of assembly, or as near thereto as he can with safety, and
to exercise the authority with which he is invested for suppressing
the same and arresting the offenders, he is guilty of a misdemeanor.




412.  Any person, who, within this state, engages in, or instigates,
aids, encourages, or does any act to further, a pugilistic contest,
or fight, or ring or prize fight, or sparring or boxing exhibition,
taking or to take place either within or without this state, between
two or more persons, with or without gloves, for any price, reward or
compensation, directly or indirectly, or who goes into training
preparatory to such pugilistic contest, or fight, or ring or prize
fight, or sparring or boxing exhibition, or acts as aider, abettor,
backer, umpire, referee, trainer, second, surgeon, or assistant, at
such pugilistic contest, or fight, or ring or prize fight, or
sparring or boxing exhibition, or who sends or publishes a challenge
or acceptance of a challenge, or who knowingly carries or delivers
such challenge or acceptance, or who gives or takes or receives any
tickets, tokens, prize, money, or thing of value, from any person or
persons, for the purpose of seeing or witnessing any such pugilistic
contest, or fight, or ring or prize fight, or sparring or boxing
exhibition, or who, being the owner, lessee, agent, or occupant of
any vessel, building, hotel, room, enclosure or ground, or any part
thereof, whether for gain, hire, reward or gratuitously or otherwise,
permits the same to be used or occupied for such a pugilistic
contest, or fight, or ring or prize fight, or sparring or boxing
exhibition, or who lays, makes, offers or accepts, a bet or bets, or
wager or wagers, upon the result or any feature of any pugilistic
contest, or fight, or ring or prize fight, or sparring or boxing
exhibition, or acts as stakeholder of any such bet or bets, or wager
or wagers, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction
thereof, shall be fined not less than one hundred dollars nor more
than one thousand dollars and be imprisoned in the county jail not
less than thirty days nor exceeding one year; provided, however, that
amateur boxing exhibitions may be held within this state, of a
limited number of rounds, not exceeding four of the duration of three
minutes each; the interval between each round shall be one minute,
and the contestants weighing one hundred and forty-five pounds or
over shall wear gloves of not less than eight ounces each in weight,
and contestants weighing under one hundred and forty-five pounds may
wear gloves of not less than six ounces each in weight. All gloves
used by contestants in such amateur boxing exhibitions shall be so
constructed, as that the soft padding between the outside coverings
shall be evenly distributed over the back of said gloves and cover
the knuckles and back of the hands. And no bandages of any kind shall
be used on the hands or arms of the contestants. For the purpose of
this statute an amateur boxing exhibition shall be and is hereby
defined as one in which no contestant has received or shall receive
in any form, directly or indirectly, any money, prize, reward or
compensation either for the expenses of training for such contest or
for taking part therein, except as herein expressly provided. Nor
shall any person appear as contestant in such amateur exhibition who
prior thereto has received any compensation or reward in any form for
displaying, exercising or giving any example of his skill in or
knowledge of athletic exercises, or for rendering services of any
kind to any athletic organization or to any person or persons as
trainer, coach, instructor or otherwise, or who shall have been
employed in any manner professionally by reason of his athletic skill
or knowledge; provided, however, that a medal or trophy may be
awarded to each contestant in such amateur boxing exhibitions, not to
exceed in value the sum of $35.00 each, which such medal or trophy
must have engraved thereon the name of the winner and the date of the
event; but no portion of any admission fee or fees charged or
received for any amateur boxing exhibition shall be paid or given to
any contestant in such amateur boxing exhibition, either directly or
indirectly, nor shall any gift be given to or received by such
contestants for participating in such boxing exhibition, except said
medal or trophy. At every amateur boxing exhibition held in this
state and permitted by this section of the Penal Code, any sheriff,
constable, marshal, policeman or other peace officer of the city,
county or other political subdivision, where such exhibition is being
held, shall have the right to, and it is hereby declared to be his
duty to stop such exhibition, whenever it shall appear to him that
the contestants are so unevenly matched or for any other reason, the
said contestants have been, or either of them, has been seriously
injured or there is danger that said contestants, or either of them,
will be seriously injured if such contest continues, and he may call
to his assistance in enforcing his order to stop said exhibition, as
many peace officers or male citizens of the state as may be necessary
for that purpose. Provided, further, that any contestant who shall
continue to participate in such exhibition after an order to stop
such exhibition shall have been given by such peace officer, or who
shall violate any of the regulations herein prescribed, for governing
amateur boxing exhibitions, shall be deemed guilty of violating this
section of the Penal Code and subject to the punishment herein
provided.
   Nothing in this section contained shall be construed to prevent
any county, city and county, or incorporated city or town from
prohibiting, by ordinance, the holding or conducting of any boxing
exhibition, or any person from engaging in any such boxing exhibition
therein.


413.  Every person wilfully present as spectator at any fight or
contention prohibited in the preceding section, is guilty of a
misdemeanor.
   An information may be laid before any of the magistrates mentioned
in section eight hundred and eight of this code, that a person has
taken steps toward promoting or participating in a contemplated
pugilistic contest, or fight, or ring or prize fight, or sparring or
boxing exhibition, prohibited under the provision of section four
hundred and twelve of this code, or is about to commit an offense
under said section four hundred and twelve. When said information is
laid before said magistrate, he must examine, on oath, the informer,
and any witness or witnesses he may produce, and must take their
depositions in writing and cause them to be subscribed by the parties
making them. If it appears from the deposition that there is just
reason to fear the commission of the offense contemplated by the
person so informed against, the magistrate must issue a warrant
directed generally to the sheriff of the county, or any constable,
marshal, or policeman in the state, reciting the substance of the
information and commanding the officer forthwith to arrest the person
informed against and bring him before the magistrate. When the
person informed against is brought before the magistrate, if the
charge be controverted, the magistrate must take testimony in
relation thereto. The evidence must be reduced to writing and
subscribed by the witnesses. If it appears there is no just reason to
fear the commission of the offense alleged to have been
contemplated, the person complained against must be discharged. If,
however, there is just reason to fear the commission of the offense,
the person complained of must be required to enter into an
undertaking in such sum, not less than three thousand dollars, as the
magistrate may direct, with one or more sufficient sureties,
conditioned that such person will not, for a period of one year
thereafter, commit any such contemplated offense.



414.  Every person who leaves this state with intent to evade any of
the provisions of Section 412 or 413, and to commit any act out of
this state such as is prohibited by them, and who does any act which
would be punishable under these provisions if committed within this
state, is punishable in the same manner as he or she would have been
in case such act had been committed within this state.



414a.  No person, otherwise competent as a witness, is disqualified
from testifying as such, concerning any offense under this act, on
the ground that such testimony may incriminate himself, but no
prosecution can afterwards be had against him for any offense
concerning which he testified. The provisions of section 1111 of the
Penal Code of this state are not applicable to any prosecutions
brought under the provisions of this act.



415.  Any of the following persons shall be punished by imprisonment
in the county jail for a period of not more than 90 days, a fine of
not more than four hundred dollars ($400), or both such imprisonment
and fine:
   (1) Any person who unlawfully fights in a public place or
challenges another person in a public place to fight.
   (2) Any person who maliciously and willfully disturbs another
person by loud and unreasonable noise.
   (3) Any person who uses offensive words in a public place which
are inherently likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction.




415.5.  (a) Any person who (1) unlawfully fights within any building
or upon the grounds of any school, community college, university, or
state university or challenges another person within any building or
upon the grounds to fight, or (2) maliciously and willfully disturbs
another person within any of these buildings or upon the grounds by
loud and unreasonable noise, or (3) uses offensive words within any
of these buildings or upon the grounds which are inherently likely to
provoke an immediate violent reaction is guilty of a misdemeanor
punishable by a fine not exceeding four hundred dollars ($400) or by
imprisonment in the county jail for a period of not more than 90
days, or both.
   (b) If the defendant has been previously convicted once of a
violation of this section or of any offense defined in Chapter 1
(commencing with Section 626) of Title 15 of Part 1, the defendant
shall be sentenced to imprisonment in the county jail for a period of
not less than 10 days or more than six months, or by both that
imprisonment and a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars
($1,000), and shall not be released on probation, parole, or any
other basis until not less than 10 days of imprisonment has been
served.
   (c) If the defendant has been previously convicted two or more
times of a violation of this section or of any offense defined in
Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 626) of Title 15 of Part 1, the
defendant shall be sentenced to imprisonment in the county jail for a
period of not less than 90 days or more than six months, or by both
that imprisonment and a fine of not exceeding one thousand dollars
($1,000), and shall not be released on probation, parole, or any
other basis until not less than 90 days of imprisonment has been
served.
   (d) For the purpose of determining the penalty to be imposed
pursuant to this section, the court may consider a written report
from the Department of Justice containing information from its
records showing prior convictions; and the communication is prima
facie evidence of such convictions, if the defendant admits them,
regardless of whether or not the complaint commencing the proceedings
has alleged prior convictions.
   (e) As used in this section "state university," "university,"
"community college," and "school" have the same meaning as these
terms are given in Section 626.
   (f) This section shall not apply to any person who is a registered
student of the school, or to any person who is engaged in any
otherwise lawful employee concerted activity.



416.  (a) If two or more persons assemble for the purpose of
disturbing the public peace, or committing any unlawful act, and do
not disperse on being desired or commanded so to do by a public
officer, the persons so offending are severally guilty of a
misdemeanor.
   (b) Any person who, as a result of violating subdivision (a),
personally causes damage to real or personal property, which is
either publicly or privately owned, shall make restitution for the
damage he or she caused, including, but not limited to, the costs of
cleaning up, repairing, replacing, or restoring the property. Any
restitution required to be paid pursuant to this subdivision shall be
paid directly to the victim. If the court determines that the
defendant is unable to pay restitution, the court shall order the
defendant to perform community service, as the court deems
appropriate, in lieu of the direct restitution payment.
   (c) This section shall not preclude the court from imposing
restitution in the form of a penalty assessment pursuant to Section
1464 if the court, in its discretion, deems that additional
restitution appropriate.
   (d) The burden of proof on the issue of whether any defendant or
defendants personally caused any property damage shall rest with the
prosecuting agency or claimant. In no event shall the burden of proof
on this issue shift to the defendant or any of several defendants to
prove that he or she was not responsible for the property damage.




417.  (a) (1) Every person who, except in self-defense, in the
presence of any other person, draws or exhibits any deadly weapon
whatsoever, other than a firearm, in a rude, angry, or threatening
manner, or who in any manner, unlawfully uses a deadly weapon other
than a firearm in any fight or quarrel is guilty of a misdemeanor,
punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than 30
days.
   (2) Every person who, except in self-defense, in the presence of
any other person, draws or exhibits any firearm, whether loaded or
unloaded, in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, or who in any
manner, unlawfully uses a firearm in any fight or quarrel is
punishable as follows:
   (A) If the violation occurs in a public place and the firearm is a
pistol, revolver, or other firearm capable of being concealed upon
the person, by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than three
months and not more than one year, by a fine not to exceed one
thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both that fine and imprisonment.
   (B) In all cases other than that set forth in subparagraph (A), a
misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not less
than three months.
   (b) Every person who, except in self-defense, in the presence of
any other person, draws or exhibits any loaded firearm in a rude,
angry, or threatening manner, or who, in any manner, unlawfully uses
any loaded firearm in any fight or quarrel upon the grounds of any
day care center, as defined in Section 1596.76 of the Health and
Safety Code, or any facility where programs, including day care
programs or recreational programs, are being conducted for persons
under 18 years of age, including programs conducted by a nonprofit
organization, during the hours in which the center or facility is
open for use, shall be punished by imprisonment in the state prison
for 16 months, or two or three years, or by imprisonment in a county
jail for not less than three months, nor more than one year.
   (c) Every person who, in the immediate presence of a peace
officer, draws or exhibits any firearm, whether loaded or unloaded,
in a rude, angry, or threatening manner, and who knows, or reasonably
should know, by the officer's uniformed appearance or other action
of identification by the officer, that he or she is a peace officer
engaged in the performance of his or her duties, and that peace
officer is engaged in the performance of his or her duties, shall be
punished by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than nine
months and not to exceed one year, or in the state prison for 16
months, or two or three years.
   (d) Except where a different penalty applies, every person who
violates this section when the other person is in the process of
cleaning up graffiti or vandalism is guilty of a misdemeanor,
punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not less than three
months nor more than one year.
   (e) As used in this section, "peace officer" means any person
designated as a peace officer pursuant to Chapter 4.5 (commencing
with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2.
   (f) As used in this section, "public place" means any of the
following:
   (1) A public place in an incorporated city.
   (2) A public street in an incorporated city.
   (3) A public street in an unincorporated area.




417.25.  (a) Every person who, except in self-defense, aims or
points a laser scope, as defined in subdivision (b), or a laser
pointer, as defined in subdivision (c), at another person in a
threatening manner with the specific intent to cause a reasonable
person fear of bodily harm is guilty of a misdemeanor, punishable by
imprisonment in a county jail for up to 30 days. For purposes of this
section, the laser scope need not be attached to a firearm.
   (b) As used in this section, "laser scope" means a portable
battery-powered device capable of being attached to a firearm and
capable of projecting a laser light on objects at a distance.
   (c) As used in this section, "laser pointer" means any hand held
laser beam device or demonstration laser product that emits a single
point of light amplified by the stimulated emission of radiation that
is visible to the human eye.



417.26.  (a) Any person who aims or points a laser scope as defined
in subdivision (b) of Section 417.25, or a laser pointer, as defined
in subdivision (c) of that section, at a peace officer with the
specific intent to cause the officer apprehension or fear of bodily
harm and who knows or reasonably should know that the person at whom
he or she is aiming or pointing is a peace officer, is guilty of a
misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a term
not exceeding six months.
   (b) Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of
subdivision (a) shall be punished by imprisonment in a county jail
for not more than one year.



417.27.  (a) No person, corporation, firm, or business entity of any
kind shall knowingly sell a laser pointer to a person 17 years of
age or younger, unless he or she is accompanied and supervised by a
parent, legal guardian, or any other adult 18 years of age or older.
   (b) No student shall possess a laser pointer on any elementary or
secondary school premises unless possession of a laser pointer on the
elementary or secondary school premises is for a valid instructional
or other school-related purpose, including employment.
   (c) No person shall direct the beam from a laser pointer directly
or indirectly into the eye or eyes of another person or into a moving
vehicle with the intent to harass or annoy the other person or the
occupants of the moving vehicle.
   (d) No person shall direct the beam from a laser pointer directly
or indirectly into the eye or eyes of a guide dog, signal dog,
service dog, or dog being used by a peace officer with the intent to
harass or annoy the animal.
   (e) A violation of subdivision (a), (b), (c), or (d) shall be an
infraction that is punished by either a fine of fifty dollars ($50)
or four hours of community service, and a second or subsequent
violation of any of these subdivisions shall be an infraction that is
punished by either a fine of one hundred dollars ($100) or eight
hours of community service.
   (f) As used in this section, "laser pointer" has the same meaning
as set forth in subdivision (c) of Section 417.25.
   (g) As used in this section, "guide dog," "signal dog," and
"service dog," respectively, have the same meaning as set forth in
subdivisions (d), (e), and (f) of Section 365.5.



417.3.  Every person who, except in self-defense, in the presence of
any other person who is an occupant of a motor vehicle proceeding on
a public street or highway, draws or exhibits any firearm, whether
loaded or unloaded, in a threatening manner against another person in
such a way as to cause a reasonable person apprehension or fear of
bodily harm is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment pursuant
to subdivision (h) of Section 1170 for 16 months or two or three
years or by imprisonment for 16 months or two or three years and a
three thousand dollar ($3,000) fine.
   Nothing in this section shall preclude or prohibit prosecution
under any other statute.



417.4.  Every person who, except in self-defense, draws or exhibits
an imitation firearm, as defined in Section 12550, in a threatening
manner against another in such a way as to cause a reasonable person
apprehension or fear of bodily harm is guilty of a misdemeanor
punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a term of not less
than 30 days.



417.4.  Every person who, except in self-defense, draws or exhibits
an imitation firearm, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 16700,
in a threatening manner against another in such a way as to cause a
reasonable person apprehension or fear of bodily harm is guilty of a
misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for a term of
not less than 30 days.



417.6.  (a) If, in the commission of a violation of Section 417 or
417.8, serious bodily injury is intentionally inflicted by the person
drawing or exhibiting the firearm or deadly weapon, the offense
shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding
one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section
1170.
   (b) As used in this section, "serious bodily injury" means a
serious impairment of physical condition, including, but not limited
to, the following: loss of consciousness; concussion; bone fracture;
protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or
organ; a wound requiring extensive suturing; and serious
disfigurement.
   (c) When a person is convicted of a violation of Section 417 or
417.8 and the deadly weapon or firearm used by the person is owned by
that person, the court shall order that the weapon or firearm be
deemed a nuisance and disposed of in the manner provided by Section
12028.


417.6.  (a) If, in the commission of a violation of Section 417 or
417.8, serious bodily injury is intentionally inflicted by the person
drawing or exhibiting the firearm or deadly weapon, the offense
shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail not exceeding
one year or by imprisonment pursuant to subdivision (h) of Section
1170.
   (b) As used in this section, "serious bodily injury" means a
serious impairment of physical condition, including, but not limited
to, the following: loss of consciousness; concussion; bone fracture;
protracted loss or impairment of function of any bodily member or
organ; a wound requiring extensive suturing; and serious
disfigurement.
   (c) When a person is convicted of a violation of Section 417 or
417.8 and the deadly weapon or firearm used by the person is owned by
that person, the court shall order that the weapon or firearm be
deemed a nuisance and disposed of in the manner provided by Sections
18000 and 18005.



417.8.  Every person who draws or exhibits any firearm, whether
loaded or unloaded, or other deadly weapon, with the intent to resist
or prevent the arrest or detention of himself or another by a peace
officer shall be imprisoned in the state prison for two, three, or
four years.



418.  Every person using or procuring, encouraging or assisting
another to use, any force or violence in entering upon or detaining
any lands or other possessions of another, except in the cases and in
the manner allowed by law, is guilty of a misdemeanor.




419.  Every person who has been removed from any lands by process of
law, or who has removed from any lands pursuant to the lawful
adjudication or direction of any Court, tribunal, or officer, and who
afterwards unlawfully returns to settle, reside upon, or take
possession of such lands, is guilty of a misdemeanor.



420.  Every person who unlawfully prevents, hinders, or obstructs
any person from peaceably entering upon or establishing a settlement
or residence on any tract of public land of the United States within
the State of California, subject to settlement or entry under any of
the public land laws of the United States; or who unlawfully hinders,
prevents, or obstructs free passage over or through the public lands
of the United States within the State of California, for the purpose
of entry, settlement, or residence, as aforesaid, is guilty of a
misdemeanor.


420.1.  Anyone who willfully and knowingly prevents, hinders, or
obstructs any person from entering, passing over, or leaving land in
which that person enjoys, either personally or as an agent, guest,
licensee, successor-in-interest, or contractor, a right to enter,
use, cross, or inspect the property pursuant to an easement,
covenant, license, profit, or other interest in the land, is guilty
of an infraction punishable by a fine not to exceed five hundred
dollars ($500), provided that the interest to be exercised has been
duly recorded with the county recorder's office. This section shall
not apply to the following persons: (1) any person engaged in lawful
labor union activities that are permitted to be carried out by state
or federal law; or (2) any person who is engaging in activities
protected by the California Constitution or the United States
Constitution.

Unlawful Assembly, Failure to disperse, order to disperse, 409

Unlawful Assembly California Penal Code Sections 407, 408, 409

UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY PENAL CODE SECTIONS  
California Penal Codes Sections 407, 408, and 409
(Failure to disperse, Order to disperse, Unlawful Assembly)
by Sue Basko
Many of the Occupy L.A. protesters were arrested under Section 409.  
Please read below. 
CLICK HERE TO See the Full Sections 403 - 420.1
407.  Whenever two or more persons assemble together to do an
unlawful act, or do a lawful act in a violent, boisterous, or
tumultuous manner, such assembly is an unlawful assembly.



408.  Every person who participates in any rout or unlawful assembly
is guilty of a misdemeanor.



409.  Every person remaining present at the place of any riot, rout,
or unlawful assembly, after the same has been lawfully warned to
disperse, except public officers and persons assisting them in
attempting to disperse the same, is guilty of a misdemeanor.
FOR MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE READ:
UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY
California Penal Codes Sections 403- 420.1
Kettling: What is it?
 

Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions
on Peaceable Assembly


 Time, Place, and Manner Restrictions on Peaceable Assembly
by Sue Basko

There seems to be a lot of confusion or misinformation in the Occupy movement about the First Amendment right to peaceable assembly and how that interacts with the right of local governments to place Time, Place, and Manner restrictions on those assemblies.

Time, Place, Manner.  The local governments and their entities (States, municipalities, counties, parks, schools, universities, airports, public transportation, departments of natural resources, etc) can make rules that control the right to peaceably assemble in public places as long as the ordinance is narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.  The law must be content neutral, not vague, and also leave some way for the people to get their message across.

Content Neutral. The laws must be content neutral. Content neutral means the rule applies to all groups, regardless of their message. 

Not Vague. And the laws must not be vague.   That means the law must state specifically to what categories it applies and how.  To be non-vague, a law must be very specific.  For example, a law cannot say “large groups” must get a permit; it must say, for example, “groups of 25 or more” must get a permit. 

Public Property Only. Keep in mind, the First Amendment is between citizens and the government.  Therefore, the right to peaceably assemble is on public property only. (There are a few exceptions to this, such as at POPS, which is explained below.)

Camping: Most municipalities disallow camping except in actual campsites.  That’s because campers need things such as toilets, drinking water, showers, benches and tables, a turf or area on which to place a tent, fire pits, safety and security measures, etc.  Therefore, almost no (or no) municipality allows camping on a street, sidewalk, plaza, or in a general-use park.

Due to a court case settlement meant to give the homeless some place to legally sleep, Los Angeles allows sleeping on the public sidewalk between 10 pm and 6 am.  That is not exactly camping.  

During the Occupy protests, some municipalities are granting special permission to the protesters to have tents and sleep in parks or plazas.  This is not being allowed as “camping,” but as part of a protest that is being conducted as “occupying.”  Because I am pro-Occupying, at least for limited time periods, I think it is wonderful that some towns and cities are cooperating.  However, the damage being done to parks and plazas cannot be denied, since these spaces were not designed or constructed to accommodate the needs of tent residents, whether campers or protesters.  Looking into the future, what happens when another, less popular and less desirable group decides it needs to protest by occupying the parks or plazas?  Will their tents be allowed?  I doubt it.  And I think this will lead to lawsuits and lots of trouble.

The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Clark vs  Community for Creative Nonviolence (1984) that sleeping in tents does not have to be allowed as part of protest.  From the other viewpoint, if a municipality wants to allow sleeping in tents as part of a protest, they are free to do so, but they are setting a precedent of allowing this for one group, and thus for all such groups.  

Masks:  The famous mask of  Guy Fawkes and V is for Vendetta has been adopted by Anonymous and anyone cool, really.  The mask is the 2011 equivalent of the 1969 hippie beads.  However, some states or municipalities have laws against wearing masks in public.    New York has a law prohibiting two or more people gathered wearing masks, unless they are holding a masquerade party.  Lots of mask-wearers have been arrested at the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York.  Check local laws.  


Masks, Aggravated Assault.  Some places have laws that turn an assault into an aggravated assault if the assailant is wearing a mask or something that conceals identity.   "Assault" is a catch-all category that Illinois law defines as "he or she knowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery." "Battery" involves when someone has been physically touched/ harmed, such as by a person or an object.   Illinois law lists many acts that turn an assault into an aggravated assault. Included among these is wearing a mask.  




In other words, if you scare someone into thinking they may be physically harmed, while you are wearing a mask, it may be aggravated assault in some states.  


Illinois Penal Code:  720 ILCS 5/122. Sec. 122. Aggravated assault. (4) Wears a hood, robe, or mask to conceal his or her identity.

Disorderly Conduct:  States and municipalities have laws against disorderly conduct.  Even if your protest is legal, any person’s actions maybe illegal if they are disorderly.  In some places, such as Chicago, not following police directives to disperse is disorderly conduct

Unlawful Assembly:  California’s law, quoted below, is typical.  An assembly is no longer peaceable or legal if it is done in a manner that is violent, boisterous, or tumultuous.  When an assembly crosses this line will be open to wide personal interpretation.  If people are shouting or running around, it would be easy to call an assembly boisterous or tumultuous. California courts have interpreted boisterous and tumultuous to mean that it may imminently turn violent.   

California Penal Code Section 407.  Whenever two or more persons assemble together to do an unlawful act, or do a lawful act in a violent, boisterous, or tumultuous manner, such assembly is an unlawful assembly.


Flash Mobs: Flash mob protests are probably "unlawful assembly" wherever they happen, and even moreso if masks and running are involved.  If what you are doing is likely to scare people or make them think a place is under attack, then you must know .. it is illegal.   ("Flash mobs" here does not mean dancing flash mobs done for fun in public places.)  See: Flash Mob Protests.

Closing Time:  In most municipalities, parks close at night.  Some public plazas may close at night, if there is good reason for this, such as for safety or cleaning.   Most public sidewalks are open all night.  However, that brings us to sound.

Sound/ Noise:  Most municipalities have restrictions on sound or noise out on the streets.  Many places have laws that restrict the use of sound amplification systems.   Check the law before you go using megaphones or an amplifier.
      

Where to Peaceably Assemble

Let's look at the different types of places that are present in most cities.  First Amendment Peaceable Assembly rights apply differently in these different types of places.

Spaces in cities can be divided into basic categories:

1) Inside public buildings, such as City Halls, libraries, etc.

2) In the publicly-owned street. (as opposed to the public sidewalk)

3) on the publicly-owned sidewalk.

4) in a publicly-owned plaza that is open to the public.

5) in a publicly-owned park.

6) in a POPS –  a privately-owned public place, which is a category that is created by zoning law in some municipalities where a developer builds a public space, such as a park or plaza, in exchange for being granted the right to build at higher density than normally allowed on that lot.

7) Privately-owned places to which the public is invited.  This includes places such as shopping malls, wide sidewalks by stores, outdoor cafes, seating areas outside businesses, private parks, private trails, etc.

8) Privately-owned places to which the public is not invited.   This includes places such as homes, yards, private college campuses, private schools, churches, medical facilities, offices.

9) Inside or on the grounds of a public college or public university.

10) Inside or on the grounds of a public high school.

11) Inside or on the grounds of a public grade school.

12) Publicly-owned airports.

13) Publicly-owned transportation facilities, such as publicly-owned bus depots and train stations, as well as on-board public buses and trains.

 The types of laws regarding protests that usually apply in these types of places:

1) Inside public buildings, such as City Halls, libraries, etc.
Most municipalities do not allow protests inside public buildings.  Protesters can attend City Council or other meetings that are open to the public, but they have to follow the rules that apply to everyone.  That means being orderly and quiet, and signing in to speak and observing time limits.  Signs may be prohibited inside a building or at a meeting, but the rule should be written and must apply to all.   Many places prohibit the distribution of flyers or other materials in a library or public building.  

2) In the publicly-owned street.
If you want to hold a protest that takes place in the street, vehicle traffic must be closed off.  Cities always require a permit or approval process for this.  Some cities also require insurance coverage for the event.  Some cities bill for the cost of public services used.  Many cities limit the length of time of such a protest with street closure  to 2- 4 hours.  Permits are granted or denied based on specific written criteria that must apply to all applicants regardless of their message.  Keep in mind, however,  that since the permit is for peaceable assembly, the groups ability and willingness to be peaceable counts.  

3) on the publicly-owned sidewalk.
 The public sidewalk is the MAIN place to hold protest marches.  In most municipalities, you can protest on the public sidewalk without a permit.  You cannot block others from using the sidewalk.   That means you can take up about one-half the width of the sidewalk and must be courteous to others trying to use the sidewalk.  You cannot step into the street or block traffic.  In most places, you cannot sit or lie down on the sidewalk.  Most places do not allow any items to be placed onto the sidewalk, such as tables, chairs, tents.  Some bigger cities, such as Los Angeles, allow sleeping on the sidewalk during specific hours at night.

Most places prohibit any protests near medical facilities or churches.  Many places have quiet zones, where no noise can be made near or in churches, schools, senior citizen homes, or other such places.  The laws regarding protests near medical facilities are often very specific and meant to protect women seeking abortions from being harassed and endangered by protesters.  

Most places have noise restrictions that limit or prohibit the use of sound amplification systems, such as public address systems, megaphones, or loudspeakers.  Check the local ordinances on this.  Most places also place limits on how much noise a performer can make and when.  This applies if your protest has drummers, as most do.  Also, most places even further restrict or prohibit any loud  noise at all from the evening to the next morning.   Check your local ordinances.  A typical no noise at night law may go from about 8 pm till 9 am.  Some places have greater noise restrictions on Sundays.  It is crucial to read and know the local laws on this. 

The right to protest outside of anyone’s house may be curtailed.  That’s because harassment is NOT part of Free Speech.  If what you are protesting is directly tied to the location, it might possibly be allowable.  Each situation will be different based on the facts and local and state laws of the location.  Be prepared to explain why you are protesting there.

Illinois Criminal Code 720ILCS 5/ Art.21.1) specifically prohibits "picketing" outside anyone's residence, other than outside your own.  So in Illinois, it is illegal to "picket" outside a public official's home, because the home is respected as a sacrosanct refuge.

4) in a publicly-owned plaza that is open to the public.
These are usually plazas that are connected to a government building or on the town square.   If a plaza has mostly stores or businesses on it, it is probably not a publicly-owned plaza - you need to check to see if it is part of a privately-owned shopping complex, for example.  If you protest in a public plaza, you have to follow the same laws as everyone else using the plaza, such as closing time.   Many public plazas prohibit sleeping or lying down.  See the rules above for public sidewalks, because the same sorts of rules apply.    

5) in a publicly-owned park.
Parks usually fall under a separate set of rules.  Parks are often ruled by a separate department of a city.  In some cities, such as New York, plazas are grouped with parks.  Also, in some cities, certain parks have a special set of rules.  In particular, different parks in the same city often have different closing times.  You need to check the laws and rules before you plan to hold anything at any particular park.    Many cities require a permit for any group over a certain size in the park.  Most cities prohibit any camping in a park, unless the park is designed for camping.  Some parks prohibit any tents at any time, or require a permit for any tent.  Some parks prohibit sleeping in a park at any time.  Most parks close at a certain stated time.  Most parks prohibit the use of any sound amplification system without a permit.  In other words, if you want to hold a protest in a park, you almost surely need to get a permit.    

6) in a POPS –  a privately-owned public place, which is a category that is created by zoning law in some municipalities where a developer builds a public space, such as a park or plaza, in exchange for being granted the right to build at higher density than normally allowed on that lot.
The rules regarding a POPS will depend on the provisions under which the POPS was created.  If you want to hold a protest in a POPS, contact a lawyer to help you.

7) Privately-owned places to which the public is invited.  This includes places such as shopping malls, wide sidewalks by stores, outdoor cafes, seating areas outside businesses, private parks, private trails, etc.
Generally, there are no peaceable assembly rights in these places.  If a place is private but appears to be a public park, there may be some First Amendment rights.  It all depends on the history and situation of the exact place.  If you plan to do this, get help from a lawyer.  

 A private shopping mall has no  First Amendment rights.  However, in California and New Jersey and possibly a few other states, there may be free speech rights that arise, not out of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, but rather out of provisions in the State constitutions.  These State provisions are subject to revision or reinterpretation by the State courts.   In California, for example, courts allow leafletting in private shopping malls to which the general public is invited.  This right is subject to reasonable rules made by the malls.

Mall  management in California  has countered this situation by posting little signs at the mall entries stating that the mall is for use by patrons of the businesses in it and that trespassers are not allowed, with the intent of limiting the mall as a public forum.  In other words, the general public is not invited.  Malls in California  also counter the "public forum" notion by programming their own space with events, such as music performances or appearances by authors, thus making their hallways and open areas into commerce areas.

Malls in California have also instituted their own permitting processes and their own time, place, and manner restrictions, as allowed under the court rulings that interpreted a right to some free speech in private shopping malls.  This seems only logical, for if a private shopping mall is to be treated by the State of California as a free speech forum, then it follows that the mall has the right to impose its own reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions.   California mall managers have been advised by lawyers to require leafletters to fill out an application in advance, and have them give names of all who will participate, provide copies of all materials and signs, to disallow any gory or inappropriate materials, to disallow any lights or sound amplification, to assign a time and location for the leafletting, to require insurance coverage and a fee.  

In most states, in a private shopping mall, there are no First Amendment assembly rights, nor any similar rights conferred by the State Constitutions. (see notes just above about shopping malls in California.)

 A privately-owned outdoor park or plaza that is open to the public might have some First Amendment rights.  These laws develop and change over time.   For a while in the past, any outdoor place that looked like a park and functioned as a park was considered "public," with First Amendment rights.  Today, that view has changed.  If you want to leaflet or hold a protest in any  park or plaza, determine first if it is public or private.  If it is private and you want to hold a protest there, please confer with a lawyer.  You might also try calling the management of the place and asking. They might tell you of a permit or application process, or they might tell you it is off limits to free speech activity.

   The best bet for a legal protest location is always the public sidewalk or a plaza adjacent to a major public government building. 

8) Privately-owned places to which the public is not invited.   This includes places such as homes, yards, private college campuses, private schools, churches, medical facilities, offices.
Private places do not have to allow any  protest activity.   At private college campuses, people often take the First Amendment activity to the public sidewalk on the perimeter of the campus.  Some private colleges try to limit the First Amendment rights of their students on and off campus.  Check the rules, check the laws, check with a lawyer or rights group.  If you pay to attend a school that tries to restrict your basic rights off-campus, perhaps you should transfer to a different school?

Also, if you plan to protest on the public sidewalk near a church, school, or medical facility, you must check the State and Municipals laws.  Some places have laws that restrict the hours and the manner in which such a protest may happen. 

Illinois Criminal Code 720ILCS 5/ Art.21.1) specifically prohibits "picketing" outside anyone's residence, other than outside your own.

9) Inside or on the grounds of a public college or public university.
Public colleges and public universities are places where there are some free speech rights, but these are not unlimited.  Universities are generally allowed to limit protest groups to students only and can consider non-students to be trespassers.  Universities are also generally allowed to limit peaceable assembly protest to certain proscribed “free speech” areas in order to protect the State interest of providing orderly education.  In many cases, these areas are too small or in inconvenient or undesirable locations where the protest will not be visible to the public.  By my observation over the years, I would say that most student protests that get “out of hand” do so if the university administration is not respecting the First Amendment rights of the students, rather than from the administration failing to adequately contain the protests.   The main problem most student protest leaders face is university discipline, where universities may attempt to expel or suspend them from school.  If this sort of thing is happening to you, get help from a lawyer or rights group immediately.  Let me repeat: Get help immediately because university "justice" systems are notoriously lacking in due process and even more lacking in unbiased decision-makers.

10) Inside or on the grounds of a public high school
Public high schools are allowed to be highly restricted places.  In most cities, non-students are not allowed on the premises for any purpose, other than official school business .  In most cases, no protests are allowed on the grounds of a public high school.  If you can determine where the actual public sidewalk is that is on the perimeter of a public high school, you may be able to flyer or protest on that public sidewalk.  However, you need to check the laws, because there may be a provision against making noise or causing a distraction or gathering for any purpose near a public high school, particularly during school hours or any time students are present. In any case, any protest must be held on the public way, not on school grounds.

You also need to check the school or district rules.  I have seen a school rule at a Los Angeles public high school that prohibited the possession of flyers by a student, even in a locker or backpack.  Believe it or not, the same school had a rule that prohibited a student from possessing a graffiti-style drawing, even inside a notebook.   The school claimed the rules were needed to ensure an orderly education in a school that supposedly had a history of gang activity.  ( "Gang" is the magic word.  If a school or municipality claims a rule is in place to ward off gang activity, it can install almost any intrusion upon freedoms.)

11) Inside or on the grounds of a public grade school
Same as public high school, but with stricter controls still.  If the protest is the parents protesting against budget cuts or some such thing, they should plan carefully to be at a time and location where they will not interfere with the learning process or distract the children or cause any danger or confusion that interferes with children’s’ safety.  In any case, the protest must be held on the public way, not on school grounds.  That means on the publicly-owned sidewalk out by the street.

12) Publicly-owned airports
Most municipalities give an airport administrator the right to control time, place, and manner restrictions on First Amendment activity within an airport.  The airport may be divided into different zones, ranging from restricted to limited.  For example, an airport may have specific spots where free speech activity may be conducted by a given person or small group for a limited amount of time during specific time slots.  Check with the airport to find these rules.  As for holding a major protest at an airport – that sounds like a good idea if you want to end out incommunicado in a hidden cell in the custody of Homeland Security.  Try it and let me know how that works out for you. 

13) Publicly-owned transportation facilities, such as publicly-owned bus depots and train stations, as well as on-board public buses and trains 
See the rules above for airports, except they are more likely to call the local police or their own security force.  You need to find and read the laws and rules.   Messing with public transportation these days is likely to end in arrest or at the very least, getting kicked out.   If you plan to protest in public transportation, check with a lawyer on the specifics of the exact place.  If you want to contact the office of the station or transportation agency, they will tell you their policies.

Flash Mob Protests

Flash Mob Protests
by Sue Basko

Today, some protests are called Flash Mobs.  Decades ago, these were called “street theater.”  This is when a group of protesters assembles quickly in a location, does some form of a quick protest, and leaves. Flash mob protests, in most cases, do no property damage or personal injury.

Flash mobs are speedy:  The idea of flash mob protest is to be in and out quickly before Security Guards or police arrive.  Flash in, flash out,  a flash mob does not stick around.   A flash mob is supposed to be in and out in under 4 - 6 minutes or so, and then make a speedy and undetected getaway.  That’s what makes it a flash mob, not a stick-around mob. 

Many flash mob protests are illegal, as explained below.  

How to Conduct a Legal Flash Mob:  A flash mob protest may possibly be LEGAL if:  1) it takes place on the public way, such as on the public sidewalk or publicly-owned plaza and does not take place on any privately-owned property;  2) if it does not alarm people, such as if it does not involve running, shouting, or wearing masks; and 3) if it does not break any other laws, such as stopping or interfering with traffic, blocking a sidewalk or entrance to a building, damaging property, or making noise against a noise ordinance.  This means, the flash mob will not involve running, shouting, wearing masks, pretending to be dying or dead, throwing anything, using fake blood, vandalizing or  any other form of property damage, or making loud or startling noises. 

What is Left that's Legal:  Showing up on the public way to sing, stand still, meditate, move in slo-mo, or do a typical, but unexpected protest.   Putting on a singing and music flash mob protest is usually very effective because it engages people in a good way and makes them happy to hear your message.  If this does not sound like your cup of tea, you are probably planning an illegal flash mob, in which case you should read on about trespassing and disorderly conduct.

Audience Reaction:  Usually the reaction to a flash mob protest will be one of these: a) fear, which is not good and often is illegal as “disorderly conduct,” such as under the Illinois law (below), which makes it illegal to “alarm” or “disturb” people and cause a breach of the peace;  b) smiling and curious, which means they are not afraid and may be receptive to your message;  c) puzzlement, which means they find your little protest show to be weird or confusing;  d) they do not even notice, which is often the case on big city streets where there’s already a lot of people doing weird and confusing things.  Keep in mind that even if you think people should be happy to receive your message, you may still be trespassing or engaging in disorderly conduct, as explained below. 

Trespassing:  If a flash mob protest is conducted on private property (such as in a shopping mall, store, privately-owned plaza, or train station) or in restricted-activity public locations (such as airports), it is probably illegal as trespassing.  If a privately-owned place is open to the public, the invitation to the public is usually for the intended purposes of the place.  For example, if it is a shopping mall, the invitation to the public is for shopping, eating at the food court, or watching cultural events hosted by the stores or management.  If it is a train station, the purposes are usually to buy tickets, catch a train, or accompany someone to a train.  Many such places have little signs warning what uses are allowed and that others are trespassing.

Free Speech Rights in Shopping Malls:  In most of the nation, there are no First Amendment rights to peaceable assembly on private property, such as in a shopping mall.  In California and New Jersey, there are some limited free speech rights in a private shopping mall. These rights are not First Amendment rights, because they do not arise out of the U.S. Constitution.  In California, these rights arise out of the California State Constitution, and are constantly evolving or being limited by the California courts.  In practice, these rights are really quite limited.     In California, there may be limited rights to pass out leaflets or to picket in a private shopping mall.   Following one court case, the rights do not apply to a big box store, such as Walmart or Best Buy,  although that is open to debate.  The interpretations of the California State Constitutional rights are subject to the exact facts in the cases that were decided, and it is not likely those same exact facts apply to any other situation.  Many California shopping malls now have their own rules about the time, place, and manner of such protests and sometimes require applications and issue permits.  However, the idea of applying to shopping mall managment for a permit to conduct a flash mob protest in a California shopping mall  is antithetical to the idea of a flash mob, which is to surprise.  

Disorderly Conduct:  If the flash mob protest is conducted on private property (such as a shopping mall, store, train station, or privately-owned plaza) or on public property (such as a publicly-owned sidewalk), it might be illegal as disorderly conduct

Look at the laws of your state and city.  For example, one section in the Illinois Penal Code, Disorderly Conduct, is a sort of catch-all category:  

Illinois Penal Code Section 720 ILCS 5/26 – 1 (a) (1) A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly:   (1) Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to alarm or disturb another and to provoke a breach of the peace.

What that law means is that if the act alarms or disturbs another and causes a “breach of the peace,” which means a public disturbance, it is a violation of the law called disorderly conduct, which under Illinois law, may be a misdemeanor (less serious crime) or a felony (more serious crime).  Generally, this means that the alarming or disturbing act must take place where there is a group of people who are affected.  That might be a shopping mall, store, sidewalk, park, plaza, or other such place.   If the only person you have disturbed is a police officer, that is probably not a breach of the peace.  However, you might still be arrested and left to prove such things in Court.

If a flash mob protest involves running, shouting, or wearing masks, it will almost surely alarm or disturb people and cause a breach of the peace.

A City municipal code may also have laws that apply to a flash mob protest. For example, Chicago Municipal Code has detailed Disorderly Conduct section.  Many other cities have similar provisions, though they may be scattered about the law in different sections. Chicago Municipal Code Disorderly Conduct Ordinance states:

8-4-010 Disorderly conduct.

A person commits disorderly conduct when he knowingly:

(a) Does any act in such unreasonable manner as to provoke, make or aid in making a breach of peace; or

(b) Does or makes any unreasonable or offensive act, utterance, gesture or display which, under the circumstances, creates a clear and present danger of a breach of peace or imminent threat of violence; or

(c) Refuses or fails to cease and desist any peaceful conduct or activity likely to produce a breach of peace where there is an imminent threat of violence, and where the police have made all reasonable efforts to protect the otherwise peaceful conduct and activity, and have requested that said conduct and activity be stopped and explained the request if there be time; or

(d) Fails to obey a lawful order of dispersal by a person known by him to be a peace officer under circumstances where three or more persons are committing acts of disorderly conduct in the immediate vicinity, which acts are likely to cause substantial harm or serious inconvenience, annoyance or alarm; or

(e) Assembles with three or more persons for the purpose of using force or violence to disturb the public peace; or

(f) Remains in the public way in a manner that blocks customer access to a commercial establishment, after being asked to clear the entrance by the person in charge of such establishment.

(g) Appears in any public place manifestly under the influence of alcohol, narcotics or other drug, not therapeutically administered, to the degree that he may endanger himself or other persons or property, or annoy persons in his vicinity; or

(h) Carries in a threatening or menacing manner, without authority of law, any pistol, revolver, dagger, razor, dangerous knife, stiletto, knuckles, slingshot, an object containing noxious or deleterious liquid, gas or substance or other dangerous weapon, or conceals said weapon on or about the person or vehicle; or

(i) Pickets or demonstrates on a public way within 150 feet of any primary or secondary school building while the school is in session and one-half hour before the school is in session and one-half hour after the school session has been concluded, provided that this subsection does not prohibit the peaceful picketing of any school involved in a labor dispute; or

(j) Pickets or demonstrates on a public way within 150 feet of any church, temple, synagogue or other place of worship while services are being conducted and one-half hour before services are to be conducted and one-half hour after services have been concluded, provided that this subsection does not prohibit the peaceful picketing of any church, temple, synagogue or other place of worship involved in a labor dispute.

(k) Either: (1) knowingly approaches another person within eight feet of such person, unless such other person consents, for the purpose of passing a leaflet or handbill to, displaying a sign to, or engaging in oral protest, education, or counseling with such other person in the public way within a radius of 50 feet from any entrance door to a hospital, medical clinic or healthcare facility, or (2) by force or threat of force or by physical obstruction, intentionally injures, intimidates or interferes with or attempts to injure, intimidate or interfere with any person entering or leaving any hospital, medical clinic or healthcare facility.

A person convicted of disorderly conduct shall be fined not more than $500.00 for each offense.


Masks:  The famous mask of  Guy Fawkes and V is for Vendetta has been adopted by Anonymous and anyone cool, really.  The mask is the 2011 equivalent of the 1969 hippie beads.  However, some states or municipalities have laws against wearing masks in public.    New York has a law prohibiting two or more people gathered wearing masks, unless they are holding a masquerade party.  Lots of mask-wearers have been arrested at the Occupy Wall Street protests in New York.  Check local laws.  

Masks, Aggravated Assault.  Some places have laws that turn an assault into an aggravated assault if the assailant is wearing a mask or something that conceals identity.   "Assault" is a catch-all category that Illinois law defines as "he or she knowingly engages in conduct which places another in reasonable apprehension of receiving a battery." "Battery" involves when someone has been physically touched/ harmed, such as by a person or an object.   Illinois law lists many acts that turn an assault into an aggravated assault. Included among these is wearing a mask.  In other words, if you scare someone into thinking they may be physically harmed, while you are wearing a mask, it may be aggravated assault in some states. 

Illinois Penal Code:  720 ILCS 5/122. Sec. 122. Aggravated assault. (4) Wears a hood, robe, or mask to conceal his or her identity.

Other Kinds of Flash Mobs.

Fun Song and Dance Flash Mobs.  
The term "flash mob" usually does not mean a protest, but instead means a group of people who assemble in a place where the public gathers to quickly perform a song or dance.  The group disperses.  Favorite places to conduct a singing or dancing flash mob are food courts, outdoor plazas, and large shopping mall courts.  Often, such a flash mob is conducted with the consent of the place's management.  It may still appear spontaneous to the surprised onlookers.  Other times, especially if it is a small group of performers, they just proceed. If these flash mobs take place on private property, they also are usually illegal as trespassing.  That’s why “flash” is part of flash mob.  Flash in, do the song and dance, flash out, disappear. 

Flash Mob Robberies.
In Chicago and some other major cities, there has been a rash of group robberies that have been called “flash mobs.”   Texting, twitter, and facebook are used to gather a group of people, usually inner-city teens, to an upscale location where they will conduct their attack or robbery.  The group then attacks victims on the street or in a park.  Sometimes, the flash mob robbers run  into a store and steal things and run out.  Chicago police have urged the public to call these incidents “multi-offender incidents,” but most everyone, including the police, still calls them flash mobs.   

Flash mob protest groups may be stopped or treated more harshly because of confusion with these flash mob robbery groups.   In cities where there have been flash mob robberies, it is very risky to conduct any sort of flash mob protest.  The risk may be legal, such as arrest or citation.  More dangerously for the protesters,  the risk may be physical because people, including security or store workers or customers, may be startled and react in self-defense against what they presume to be a criminal mob.   Today, anyone engaging in a startling or weird  flash mob protest inside a store or other private place is risking not just arrest, but also their own life or safety.