May 5, 2006

Is It a Civil Right to break the law during a protest?

Yeah, I know, that's a loaded post heading, but you have to hear me out. About 2,500 students at the University of Colorado participated in a Pro-Pot 4/20 4:20 rally on campus. The students are angry and have lawyered up, claiming their civil rights have been violated. Of course this will probably go in favor of the students because that's how things work sometimes, but if you think about this logically then you'll see no actual civil rights were violated at all. There were signs posted around the field the protestors used to gather telling them the gathering was not going to be allowed without a permit (which was not obtained), and that there would be video surveillance of any events that take place on the field. These signs were posted in clear sight of all points on the field and around the campus. The students ignored the signs and gathered anyway. Not only did they break the law by illegally trespassing on the field, but they also broke the law during their protest by smoking pot while they were gathered. Breaking the law during a lawful rally negates your legal right to gather and subjects you to possible arrest. Breaking the law to illegally gather and then breaking the law again in order to protest just adds to your possible rap sheet once you're booked.

These adults (I use the term loosely) should know better. It is no secret smoking pot is illegal. It is also no secret that it is illegal to gather on private property when it is posted your gathering is to be considered illegal. I know the University of Colorado's fields are semi-public property, but it was made clear by posted signage that the event was going to be patrolled and surveilled. These children decided to vent their defiance anyway, and now they should suffer the consequences.

11 comments:

D Truth said...

Hey Jim this is your favorite Liberal from the office. I have not heard of this
Story until I got here so I have no idea about the particulars. Yes they were wrong to openly smoke pot. That was illegal. But what are the laws for protest. When does it come down to you being able to exercise your right to protest if every inch of the country is private property and you need a permit to voice your opinion?

The JimP said...

The laws limiting protests on public or private property aren't to limit the ability to protest. They were put in place to limit public liability during protests if that rally is to take place on public land (as in this case), or to eliminate private liability if that rally is to take place on private land. They also are there to help protect the protestors from being unknowingly questioned by the authorities, since they need to be notified of the event in order to provide protection from possible violent counter-protestors.

However, in spite of the protection the laws provide for in all protesting cases, the laws were completely ignored by the protestors in this case. These college students took their liberties into theri own hands when they decided to break the law, and now it has come back to bite them.

D Truth said...

So in a case of people wanting to protest at the White House. They are not allowed why?

The JimP said...

It's not a question of not being allowed, but whether or not the proper permits have been obtained. And ignorance of the laws does not constitute a "Not Guilty" in court. If you're going to protest something you should be educated on the issue in the first place, and in the second educated on how to conduct a legal protest. Just posting up a thousand people on the front lawn of the White House just might get the Secret Police to use them itchy we pay them for.

tammo21 said...

Your posting is not entirely true. Your right to freely assemble is a right even if in the process you break the law. Plus the fact that the university of colorado is public property (because taxpayers pay for it for the most part), permits to protest are just a formality.

The JimP said...

Check the laws... My post is not false in any way. I know that in most cases the law is not carried out because of fear of public reprisal, but it is not permitted to gather in large numbers where it would be disruptive to traffic, general business or in the case where it has been posted by the cognitive authority (for public land) that such a gathering would require a permit. If you break the law during such a gathering that violation doesn't negate the right to gather, but your right to gather doesn't negate the possibility of your being prosecuted, either.

tammo21 said...

Congress shall make no law... blah blah blah...

...or the right of the people peaceably to assemble.

This means that no law can require a permit unless it is known that the assembly is not going to be peaceful. You're right that blocking traffic does not constitute a peacable assembly, and therefore blocking traffic can negate the right to assemble, as can breaking the law.

But generally that's kinda hard to justify, as they require permits for all large assemblies, regardless of whether or not it can be done without blocking traffic, IE use of the sidewalks or public parks, or in this case, a publicly funded university campus. It's unconstitutional to post signs saying you're not allowed to protest, especially if it's public property. And the constitution supercedes all local and federal law.

The JimP said...

The signs posted did not say they would be prosecuted for trespassing since they all had a viable right to be on the campus. It notified them of the fact there would be video surveillance in the area during the time they planned on holding their rally, as well as the desire of the school for their rally not to be held. No one said they shouldn't be there, only that their presence isn't welcomed.

tammo21 said...

True enuf. Boy I tell you what, I'd put signs up that said any protesters will be shot. That'd keep them damn hippies off the lawn. or maybe it would make them protest "gun violence" and smoke some blunts right out in front of my house. stupid commies.

The JimP said...

Yup... Problem is, you can't just post a sign and have whats on the sign stick... It isn't legal to shoot someone in California, even in self or property defense. They've prosecuted people who have used deadly force in successfully defending themselves for the death or injury of their attacker and awarded the penalty to the attacker. Isn't that just crazy?

tammo21 said...

Now where did you hear that besides in the movies?