The New Haven based firm of Knight & Cerritelli, LLC recognize that the right to join with other people to protest and/ or assemble is enshrined in the US Constitution’s First Amendment guarantees of Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. However, Connecticut residents should be aware that the right is not unfettered and law enforcement and the government can impose certain restrictions. It is a tricky balance because the rights above are constitutionally guaranteed yet the government has the right and duty to ensure safety to the public in Connecticut.
Basically people have the right to assemble and protest in public areas such as streets, sidewalks, parks etc. throughout Connecticut. As a general rule, protesters cannot demonstrate on private property unless the owner has consented and if the owner has asked protesters to leave they must do so. Individuals charged with criminal offenses should contact attorneys at the New Haven based firm of Knight & Cerritelli, LLC. Protests and demonstrations can be restricted as to “time, place and manner” by the government. For example the government can require permits for large assemblies such as parades or for gatherings that would utilize a sound system. The government cannot prevent smaller street marches as long as the participants are on public walks and obeying traffic laws. What is most important about government regulation is that the government can look to ensure public safety, but it cannot look to prevent protesting because of disagreement over the content of the speech.
There is a fair amount of activity and self-expression that is protected by the First Amendment including singing; dancing; setting up tables on sidewalks; handing out flyers, petitioning for signatures and holding out signs. In Connecticut, this can be done in any public area including the front of public buildings as long as the demonstrators are not disrupting other people ; blocking access to the building, harassing people; forcing people to accept leaflets or causing traffic problems. Individuals and groups considering peaceful protests should consult with the criminal defense and personal injury attorneys at Knight & Cerritelli, LLC.
The first amendment does not protect those that are trespassing or disobeying or interfering with a lawful order by a police officer. Protesters do not have the right to block entrances of buildings or physically harass people. People cannot engage in speech that may be considered a breach of peace or may be dangerous for instance yelling “fire” in a crowded theater.
Also speakers cannot incite imminent violence or provoke people to commit unlawful acts. Speakers cannot also engage in malicious statements about public officials and/or obscene speech. Individuals charged with criminal offenses should contact the criminal defense attorneys at the New Haven based firm of Knight & Cerritelli, LLC.
The attorneys at Knight & Cerritelli, LLC believe the most iconic example of civil disobedience is embodied in Rosa Parks ‘refusal to give up a seat to a white passenger on a public bus. Civil disobedience is a form of protest where although peaceful it is unlawful and this not protected under the First Amendment. This was a form of protest used so effectively by Martin Luther King during the Civil Rights Era.
Any and every group including groups like Nazi’s or the Ku Klux Klan is allowed to meet and discuss ideas and peaceably promote its point of view even if the message is hateful. They are limited however as to time, place and manner but government officials cannot make the restrictions so prohibitive as to effectively deny these groups the exercise of their constitutional rights to assemble and speak freely just because they do not approve of the content or subject matter of the speech.