The whole nation has been abuzz lately with protests coming together in every state where people are demanding accountability among law enforcement officers and an end to police brutality. New York has become a hotbed for some of the largest demonstrations.
If you are going out to protest, certain risks may be involved; however, all citizens are protected by constitutional rights that go beyond freedom of speech. Understanding your rights is one of the key elements of protesting safely and effectively.
Recording and documenting protests
Despite what any officer may tell you, the American Civil Liberties Union states that police may not delete data from your phone. All of your video and audio recordings are protected by the first amendment, and none of your photos or videos can be confiscated without a warrant. If all you are doing is recording a video from a safe distance, you are not interfering with police operations and it is your right to continue recording.
Your rights if you get arrested
You have the right to make a local phone call if you get arrested, and law enforcement is not allowed to listen if you are calling a lawyer for legal advice. You also have the right to remain silent, and it is advisable not to agree to anything or sign any paperwork without an attorney present.
Police can stop you if they have a reason to do so, but being stopped does not necessarily mean you are detained. If you get stopped, ask the officer if you are free to go. If he or she responds yes, you can calmly walk away.