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How does the First Amendment protect protesters?

Generally speaking, the First Amendment protects the right to protest. But there are some restrictions.

As protesters fill the streets of cities nationwide, police officers have come under scrutiny for arresting demonstrators.

Could this violate the First Amendment? Let’s take a look at how the constitution protects protesters.

The First Amendment protects religious practice, speech, the press and the right to assemble and petition the government.

So generally, yes, it protects protesters. But there are still restrictions on how you can express yourself.

For example, protesters have the most rights on public land, like sidewalks and parks. This would include places like Lafayette Park or The National Mall

But if you assemble on private property without the permission of the landowner, that is considered trespassing and is not protected.

If protesters plan to shut down streets, in most places they need a permit.

Many of the arrests we’ve seen lately also occur when protesters are out past a city’s curfew. After curfew, law enforcement can declare a demonstration as an “unlawful assembly” and begin arresting people.

"Is there anything about voluntary information or answering a question that could potentially be used against you?," said Bob Rigg, a law professor at Drake University. "If you think in those things and those terms, you're probably going to want to talk to your lawyer."

WATCH: Drake University law professors Sally Frank and Bob Rigg on protester rights

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Additionally, rioting, threats and damage to property are not protected forms of free speech and therefore, are not protected by the First Amendment.

But it’s worth noting, just because police can legally arrest people who breach these guidelines, it doesn’t mean it’s the most prudent course of action. In many cases, there’s a lot of grey area.

"You don't want to be interference. You don't want to be beaten by the police or anything else," said Sally Frank, another Drake University law professor. "'I won't resist you, but I do not consent' is the safest way of approaching these things. And be clear. Say it, think about it ahead of time so that you are ready with these kinds of focuses."

Many police departments have come under fire for arresting peaceful groups or using excessive force, tactics which critics say are only making tensions worse.

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