Protecting free speech and expression means protecting a free press, the democratic process, diversity of thought, and so much more. The ACLU has long defended these rights for everyone – especially those disproportionately affected by suppression and censorship, like protesters, reporters and photographers, religious and racial minorities, the poor, students, and professors.
The right to join with others in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy and at the core of the First Amendment. In 2018, we sued the City of Cambridge for charging public event organizers for police details in City parks, which essentially forces people to pay to exercise their constitutionally protected right to protest. That same year, we challenged the Natick School Committee’s refusal to allow criticism of the school system during the “Public Speak” portion of its meetings.
We spoke out when the Boston Police Department blocked reporters from accessing parts of a white supremacist protest in August 2017 and had legal observers on the scene of the follow-up protest that November to make sure the press had full access to report on the speakers and event.
Building on our groundbreaking 2011 court victory that secured the right openly to record on-duty police officers, we also provide Know Your Rights resources for demonstrators and others involved in copwatch activities. We also continue to litigate the right of civilians to secretly record on-duty officers without fear of arrest and prosecution.