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 April 14, 2021

Daunte Wright: Your Right to a Peaceful Protest

Group of peaceful police brutality protestors wearing masks and holding hands following death of Daunte Wright

Here’s what we know about the Daunte Wright shooting

Earlier this week, tragedy struck in an all-too-familiar and disturbing story of history repeating itself in America: A White police officer killed a Black man.

On Sunday, April 11, in Minneapolis, 20-year-old Daunte Wright was pulled over for a traffic violation when police realized he had an outstanding arrest warrant. When police tried to arrest him, Wright re-entered the vehicle. That’s when chaos ensued: A police officer shot Wright, who kept driving for a few blocks and then crashed into another vehicle. After the crash, he was pronounced dead at the scene.

These events follow and echo a similar theme of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, another Caucasian former police officer in Minneapolis, following the death of George Floyd last summer.

Protestors are pouring into the streets again

With tensions especially high in Minneapolis after incidents like this continue to happen, many are gathering to address and protest police brutality, especially against Black people.

If you’re one of the many who are sharing your voice and sparking a conversation by protesting, it’s important to know your rights before making your signs and hitting the streets. While protesting is considered protected speech under the First Amendment, police and other government officials have the right to place certain restrictions on speech rights.

Here’s what you should know when attending a protest

  • Your rights hold strongest when you’re on public property and shared areas, like sidewalks, streets and parks.
  • It’s best not to go on someone’s private property unless you have consent by the owner. If you do, or if you’re the owner of the property, the government does not have the right to restrict your speech.
  • Keep in mind that counter-protesters (anyone that is responding to your free speech) also have rights. Police are required to treat protestors and counter-protesters equally.
  • You do not need a permit unless you’re blocking vehicle or pedestrian paths that impede the flow of traffic.
  • You have the right to photograph or take videos of anything in plain view when you are in a public setting. If you’re on private property, the owner decides the rules on documentation.
  • Police officers do not have the right to confiscate or demand to view the photos or videos you take without a warrant.

What should you do if you are stopped by a police officer?

  1. Stay calm. Do not raise your voice or try to physically harm a police officer.
  2. Ask them why you are being stopped or arrested. If you were stopped for taking a photo or marching on a street, respectfully remind them that you have those rights.
  3. Know that they cannot detain you without reason and that you’ve not committed a crime or were about to commit a crime.
  4. As the saying goes, “You have the right to remain silent.” Unless you’re asking them about what you did, remain silent until you have legal counsel.
  5. If you are arrested, you have the right to make a local phone call (Know that police have the right to listen in, UNLESS you are calling a lawyer).

A lawyer can answer all your questions about protesting and free speech laws.

Events like these are injecting more pain and fury into communities, and if you’re one of the many that want to share your voice, it’s important to know how to protect yourself and what to know to truly keep your protesting peaceful.

With the help of a dedicated provider lawyer, you can get the comprehensive legal protection and consultation you need before you fight for justice.

Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. d/b/a LegalShield (“LegalShield”) provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to LegalShield members through membership-based participation. Neither LegalShield nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation or advice. This is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations. If you are a LegalShield member, please contact your provider law firm for legal advice or assistance.


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