Webinar-The Future of Public Protest: Regulating Mass Demonstrations, Marches, and Parades


Wednesday, August 5, 2020 -
10:00am to 11:00am


Online Webinar

Webinar-The Future of Public Protest: Regulating Mass Demonstrations, Marches, and Parades


August 5, 2020
10:00 - 11:00 a.m.




After George Floyd was killed by Minneapolis police officers, public protests exploded across the United States. At times, those demonstrations resembled the peaceful methods of Martin Luther King Jr. and the nonviolent marches of Vietnam War protesters. At other times, the George Floyd protests resembled the obstructionist methods of the Occupy Wall Street movement, featuring the blockading of bridges and interstate highways. Our law of public protest -- with its extraordinary protections for those who seek municipal permits before engaging in mass demonstrations and marches -- was created largely in response to the methods of protest employed in the Civil Rights and Vietnam War eras. Our law is not so well adapted to the methods employed by Occupy Wall Street, and those methods have been on display in some of the recent Black Lives Matter protests.

This panel—the first of series of a three-part series on speech and expression in the public forum--will try to address the future regulation of public protest. It will examine not only the existing law of public protest but also the adaptability of that law to modern protest methods. In addition, the panel will examine the enormous challenges that modern protest methods create for municipalities and police departments. Finally, the panel will inquire how courts will likely review the street-level, moment-by-moment decision-making of police officers who confront spontaneous demonstrations conducted without a permit.

Kevin Francis O'Neill
Van R Johnson

Juan Raudrick Thomas

Section of State and Local Government Law