Protected by the First Amendment and upheld over time as a bulwark of our free society, the rights to assemble, protest, and petition continue to come under fire today.

Unfortunately, as people connect in new ways using the Internet and mobile technologies, the government has developed new tactics to disrupt and restrict lawful assembly and protest. Those who wish to join together in peaceful protest or assembly risk police violence, mass arrests, infiltration, surveillance, and the criminalization of protest itself. 

Since our founding in 1920, preserving and strengthening the right to protest has been a core priority for the ACLU and its state affiliates. No matter the content or popularity of the protesters’ speech—and surely protected speech often includes ideas we find despicable—our commitment to this principle has been unwavering. 

We challenge laws that attempt to silence protesters, document abuses at these gatherings, represent protesters in court proceedings when their rights have been violated, and push back against government surveillance of protesters on the streets, in meeting halls, and on the Internet. We continue this fight because the right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is essential to a functioning democracy.

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