At the RNC? Know Your Rights!

After a brief weather-related delay, the 2012 Republic National Convention is finally getting underway. Although crowds of protestors are smaller than initially expected, as we recently pointed out, in past years, political conventions have sometimes become “constitutional black holes” that stifle free speech and other First Amendment protected activity.

It’s important to note that while the First Amendment protects our rights to free speech and assembly, police and government officials are allowed to place certain nondiscriminatory and narrowly drawn "time, place and manner" restrictions on the exercise of First Amendment rights. Any such restrictions must apply to all speech regardless of its point of view, but this does mean that how these rights manifest themselves do vary from state to state and city to city.

That is why the ACLU of Florida has put together a series of RNC related resources, which can be found on their website at Some of these resources include:

•     First Amendment toolkit (view here, print here), produced specifically for the RNC with information about the right to protest, permits during the convention, and what to do if stopped by the police.
•    A Rights of Protestors brochure, which details rights to protest, limitations on speech and action in Florida, and your rights when encountering police and if you are arrested.
•    A Know Your Rights guide for photographers, which details rights to public photography in Florida, special considerations when recording video, and photographing police encounters.
•    RNC in Tampa: What You Need to Know slideshow, which was presents information about what to expect at the RNC, as well as information about event zones and parade maps.
•    ACLU of Florida First Amendment Forum: Focus on the Tampa RNC, videos from a forum organized by the ACLU of Florida in Tampa with community leaders and First Amendment experts on the impact the 2012 Republican National Convention would have on the people of Tampa and their rights (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7).

Representatives from the ACLU of Florida are live on the ground at the RNC, and will be tweeting updates from @ACLUFL. You can contact the ACLU if you’re interested in volunteering at the RNC, or if you need help because you believe your rights have been violated.

We hope you’ll join us in calling on the Mayors of Tampa, Florida (as well as Charlotte, North Carolina – where the upcoming Democratic National Convention will be held) to actively protect and defend free speech at the conventions.

Stay tuned for updates from the RNC, and information about your rights at the DNC!

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Isn't the First Amendment merely a prohibition of what Congress can not do and not what people have a right to do?


You have the right to be recorded, monitored and tracked. You may not monitor record or track. Everything you say an do will be kept permanently in a database for future use against you. You have the right to protest in designated times and areas. The current designated time is from 4:03 Am till 4:08 am EST the approved area is located 20 feet below sea level in the middle of Tampa bay.

You may not bring , umbrellas, beverages or food containers, unproved clothing sticks ,string, plastic figures of Santa(they may be considered a weapon against sadness) . You must have ID including birth certificate(Hawaiian birth certificates will not be accepted) and major credit card. You may not carry signs as they may be used to block pepper spray, batons, rubber bullets etc. You may not wear protective eye ware including sunglasses that may disguise your features.. Hearing aids are also forbotten as they temporarily store audio information and audio recording of police is a felony with long jail sentences.

Remember not to violate strict noise ordinances. WHISPER or use sign language only. Failure to comply will be cause for the use of chemical weapons including those that are know to be carcinogenic and my lead to deaths of the elderly asthmatics children or adults.

Enjoy your free and democratic society. Remember to vote for one of two candidates both funded and approved by large multinational corporations, wealthy individuals and special interests.

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