From Black Lives Matter protests to anti-mask demonstrations — often met by counterprotesters and police in riot gear — 2020 has tested Americans’ First and Fourth Amendment rights. COVID-19 has exacerbated political tensions, already running high in an election year.
Against this landscape, Georgetown University’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection released Protests & Public Safety: A Guide for Cities & Citizens. The aim of the toolkit is to help local jurisdictions protect public safety while respecting constitutional rights during rallies, protests and other public events — such as by restricting private militia and paramilitary activity, which is legal in every state.
The toolkit offers:
- Detailed legal analysis for municipal and state attorneys
- General legal guardrails and best practices for mayors’ offices, city mangers, police chiefs and other municipal officials
- Frequently asked questions for concerned citizens and activists.
Besides exploring the constitutional considerations around ensuring safety while protecting freedom of speech, the toolkit discusses the importance of planning ahead, the imperative to correct misinformation quickly and effective security procedures for people.
The full toolkit can be accessed here.