Legal experts give protestors guidance on dealing with police - KCTV5

Legal experts give protestors guidance on dealing with police

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Officer points weapon at protestor in Ferguson (AP) Officer points weapon at protestor in Ferguson (AP)

Residents have more rights than they may realize when it comes to peaceful protests.

But with those rights come responsibilities.

"It's critical that people know their rights because it's so important that we can speak," said Gillian Wilcox, an attorney for Missouri's ACUL. "We have our right to free expression."

The issue has been on the spotlight after peaceful protests and not-so-peaceful protests in Ferguson, MO, after a white police officer shot and killed an unarmed black teen. President Barack Obama was among those saying that police had used excessive force in dealing with peaceful protestors and roughing up two journalists.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon handed responsibility for Ferguson's security from local law enforcement officers to the Missouri Highway Patrol in the wake of the national outrage.

Wilcox tells protestors to stay calm and be polite when confronted by police. She said do not lie or provide false documents. She recommends preparing yourself and your family for the possibility of an arrest. You should remember the details of your encounter and not interfere or obstruct with the police.

You can record police.

"If you're a witness, you're not being arrested, you're seeing something happen then you record it and you're close to it, it doesn't necessarily interfere with what they're doing because you're close to what they're doing," Wilcox said.

If you are arrested, you have the right to remain silent but you have to verbally exercise that right. If you are arrested, you have a right to an attorney and can immediately ask for one. If you are not under arrest, you have the right to calmly leave.

"Folks feel like they can't leave a situation," Wilcox said. "It's an issue we should talk about and it should be discussed. Because if you're not under arrest and they have no reason to hold you, you're free to leave."

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