Free Speech

Preparing for Protests


Our nation was founded on political dissent and the right to protest remains one of our most fundamental constitutional rights.

Protest groups are beginning to emerge around the state, many affiliated in some way with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that has captured national headlines. On October 5, 2011, the ACLU of Ohio released an advisory, giving these protesters basic information about their rights, the limitations of those rights, and what to do if those rights are violated. The ACLU of Ohio has also published know-your-rights cards for protesters, in both single and four-up format.

In November 2011, two protesters were arrested while attempting to enter the Toledo City Council chambers with protest signs, despite the fact that city council had no official policy banning signs. The ACLU of Ohio held a press conference, calling on Toledo City Council to adopt an official policy and to show respect for the first amendment. Instead, Toledo City Council voted to ban all signs from city council meetings, a move the ACLU called “disrespectful” to Toledo residents.

Later that same month, The ACLU of Ohio contacted the City of Toledo a second time, following up on complaints from the Occupy Toledo movement about unclear city permit policies and calling on city leadership to set clear, constitutional rules for public demonstrations.

In December 2011, Montgomery County made news with its passage of new rules limiting free speech at Dayton’s Courthouse Square. The ACLU of Ohio spoke out against the rules and is monitoring the situation, as these new restrictions appear to target the Occupy Dayton movement specifically.