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How to avoid being arrested during a protest in New Orleans

At Crescent City Law, we usually help people after they get arrested, but here is some general advice to avoid being arrested during a protest in New Orleans.

1. Do I have a Constitutional Right to Protest?

Yes, you have a right to protest peacefully.  You do not have a right to incite violence or put others in fear of their lives.

    • For example, you can yell “fire” to start a fireworks show, but you can’t yell “fire” in a crowded theatre because it puts all of the other theater goers in fear.

2. Interactions with the Police?

Do not engage in physical altercations with the police.  This goes without saying, but things are changing rapidly.  If you hit a police officer, you can be charged with battery on a police officer or worse.  If you resist arrest, police will add that on, too.  If you are arrested for these crimes, it is less likely you’ll be able to get out of jail for free the next morning.

3. If the police throw things at me, can I throw things back?

No, do not throw things at the police.  This will get you arrested for at least a battery.

4. Can I bring my gun to a protest?

Yes, Louisiana is an open carry state (which means you can carry any kind of firearm you want visibly at almost anytime & anywhere).  Bringing a gun to a protest will make you a target for police.  I strongly recommend against carrying a gun anywhere.  If you have a concealed weapons permit, then you may carry it concealed, with your permit, and still need to obey law enforcement orders.

5. What should I do when peaceful protests take a turn toward violence?


    • If you fear for your own safety at any time, your instinct should tell you to leave.  And you should follow your instinct.

6. What if I get Arrested for Protesting in New Orleans?

A friend of mine was arrested during the protests there a few years ago for a bogus crime of something like ‘blocking a sidewalk’.  She spent a night in jail, the charges were ultimately dismissed.

    • Write my cell phone number on your arm in permanent marker.  My cell number is (504) 617-8849.  In most cases, protesters are being released the morning after their arrest with a recognizance bond (free).  In rare cases, they have to pay a bond. If you end up in jail, call me.

7. You really get a free phone call in Jail:

The Sheriff has phones in lockup.  Those phones are typically free, but have something like a 3 minute time limit for each call.  If you call anyone on those phones, remember they are recorded so do not say anything about your case on the phone.  Just tell the person you were arrested and need to get out of jail.

8. Be Careful!

9. Health Guidelines for Protestors:

  • Wear a Mask to Prevent the Spread of airborne illnesses like COVID-19.
  • Bring Hand Sanitizer and use it often.
  • It is important to support the protest, but remember to keep social distance of 6-10ft from other protestors.
  • Bring your own food, water, drinks.  Do not share things that touch lips of people you don’t know.
  • Did you know soap and hot water break down the fatty cell wall of COVID-19? Take a shower when you get home from a protest to prevent the spread.
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