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Law Enforcement Abuse Lawyers in Henrico County

Law enforcement agencies do not have a good record when dealing with protests. Police agencies and officers often prioritize order over protesters’ civil rights. As a result, they may subject protesters to heavy-handed police tactics, including wrongful arrest, mistreatment, and excessive force.

Protesters, including those protesting Israel’s actions in Palestine, have rights protected by the U.S. Constitution as well as U.S. and Virginia statutes. If you were subjected to abusive police tactics during a Palestine protest or after an arrest, our firm’s attorneys for police misconduct victims can help you understand your rights. Contact Commonwealth Law Group for a free consultation.

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Constitutional Rights of Protesters

The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution enshrines your right to protest. As courts have observed for over 200 years, all protesters have these rights, regardless of their message. Those involved in Palestine protests have the same rights as Black Lives Matter or abortion protesters.

Specifically, the government cannot interfere with your ability to assemble and speak your opinion. It cannot stop the press from covering your protest.

On the other hand, governments and universities can require you to obtain a permit for your protest. They can also control the time and place for your protest. And nothing in the Constitution prohibits the police from protecting lives or private property endangered by protesters’ actions.

Abuse of Power by Law Enforcement in Henrico County

Governments and police agencies abuse their authority when they engage in any of the following:

  • Refusing to issue permits based on the subject matter being protested
  • Breaking up lawful protests
  • Detaining protesters who have not broken any laws
  • Arresting bystanders or members of the press observing the protest
  • Using excessive force against protesters

Commonwealth Law Group can analyze the tactics used against you and determine the compensation you can seek for police abuses.

Excessive Force Against Protesters

Restrictions on excessive force come primarily from Virginia law. State statutes explain the tactics police can use and when they can use them. Specifically, Virginia restricts when the police can use:

Officers can only use these tactics to prevent death or serious bodily injury. Virginia law also implicitly restricts the use of tear gas in situations where the police must protect lives or property. In other words, the police cannot use tear gas to break up a lawful protest.

How a Henrico County Civil Rights Lawyer Helps Protesters

An attorney for police harassment can use federal laws to pursue claims for monetary compensation. Specifically, 42 U.S. Code section 1983 gives individuals the right to pursue legal claims against state officials who violate their constitutional rights. The remedy for a section 1983 violation includes monetary compensation for any losses you incurred. Contact us to learn about your right to file a section 1983 claim.

Can the Police Arrest Protesters?

Yes, the police can arrest protesters for breaking the law. Common charges against protesters include:

  • Trespassing
  • Vandalism and destruction of property
  • Obstructing traffic
  • Assaulting police officers
  • Resisting arrest

However, the police cannot arrest protesters for simply protesting, even if they disagree with their message. This problem arises when protesters have opinions that police officers may object to, such as Palestine protests.

When Can the Police Use Force Against Protesters?

The police can use reasonable force to enforce the laws, such as shutting down an unlawful protest. They can escalate the amount of force against a protester who poses a threat of serious bodily injury or death to an officer or another person. The police can never use excessive force. Excessive force might include:

  • Shooting non-legal munitions, like beanbags, at fleeing protesters
  • Using tear gas against lawful protesters
  • Restraining non-violent protesters by using chokeholds

U.S. and Virginia laws restrict what the police can do when facing protesters and provide remedies when they go too far.

What Happens if the Police Mistreat Protesters After Arresting Them?

The U.S. Constitution prohibits the police from violating prisoners’ civil rights. These rights include:

  • Reasonable medical treatment
  • Access to a lawyer
  • Reasonably safe detention facilities

Most importantly, they prohibit law enforcement abuse of power by detaining protesters without charges or assaulting protesters in custody. U.S. laws give Henrico County police brutality attorneys the power to file claims against the police department for constitutional violations.

Civil Rights Attorneys at Commonwealth Law Group

Lawful protesters should not face unlawful arrest, mistreatment, and police brutality for exercising their constitutional rights. Contact Commonwealth Law Group for a free consultation if you have experienced law enforcement abuse of authority during a protest. We will analyze your case and explain your options for seeking compensation.

“Great law group. Everyone was kind and down to earth. Made me feel like I was their only client. Very attentive to me and my case.”

Karen Jacobs

If you have been injured at work or through the negligence of another individual or entity, contact us at (804) 999-9999 or or use the form below to connect with our legal team. We will fight to get you the justice you deserve.