This page documents the worst experiences we have had with the police/highway patrol and how better to interact with them. The page will be updated as we learn more. Most police and CHP have treated overpass protesters fine at the hundreds of protests that have occurred, but a few want to harass and bully, perhaps due to political pressure put on their supervisors. The writer is not an attorney. So, do not take this as legal advice.
NOTIFYING THE POLICE
Notify the police or highway patrol 1-2 days before the event. Obama supporters often call 9/11 to try to have the protest disrupted and may make false reports of people throwing things off the overpass, etc. Let the police know ahead of time that there is a possibility of false 9/11 calls being made to disrupt the protest. It has happened in other places.
The police are required by law to respond immediately to a 9/11 call, if they do not already know about the event and they may well be angry enough to take it out on you, when they arrive. If the police already know about the event, they may not have to respond immediately and may not respond at all, depending on the situation.
Some police will harass protestors, saying the protest is a traffic hazard and hanging signs from the fence is illegal, though they cannot seem to cite a law that applies. At times there has seemed to be a concerted effort in some states to shut down these protests.
If you take down your signs and/or leave, based on a suggestion, you are voluntarily giving up your constitutional rights and the police officer has no legal responsibility for the act. Suggest that you try to make the officer say explicitly the following:
● That he is giving you a lawful order to disperse or take down the signs
● Cite the law that he claims requires it
● Make the threat that if you do not comply he is going to arrest you
If the officer gives you a lawful order to disperse and you do not obey, he can arrest you, whether it is really lawful or not. If you have to wait for arraignment, you can potentially be in jail for a couple of days. If you make bail, you can probably be released the same day, but it may cost you probably a couple hundred dollars.
Record the officer saying these things above with a camera or a voice recorder and post it so that others can see. If a lawsuit comes about it may be useful to have evidence that several groups in your state have been harassed. Have a voice recorder in your pocket turned on at all times, during a demo. Record the actual threats with a video camera, if possible.
Explain that you are not “posting” the signs, which implies leaving them there unattended indefinitely, but just displaying attended signs temporarily for a couple of hours, after which they will be removed. The police are playing word games with us and counting on us being ignorant of the law. We need to say the right words back to them and record any “lawful” orders and threats.
If you know which law will be cited, have copies on hand to show to the police. Some of the laws that they have cited in California are listed below. Other states usually have similar laws. It is against the law to post advertising on overpass fences, but protest signs are not advertising.
Impeach-Obama Overpass Protests – Is it Legal in California?
In some states it seems that police supervisors are being pressured by pro-Obama political operatives to discourage these protests, because they ARE too effective. We need to know our rights and push back.
These are a couple of examples of not so friendly encounters with the CHP. Most police have not behaved like this, but a few police can and do bully and harass protesters. So, you need to be prepared for it.
Two protesters in St. Charles, Missouri were arrested for failure to disperse and resisting arrest. The prosecutor declined to press charges on them and they were released after spending a night in jail.
A group in Sacramento are caught by surprise after having dozens of uneventful protests. A CHP officer bullies them into agreeing to leave the overpass at his mere suggestion. Since he does not explicitly “order” them to leave under threat of arrest, they may have voluntarily given up their legal rights in this episode. Recommend asking the officer what law has been broken and what are the consequences, if you choose to not follow the order. Be aware, though, that an officer has the authority to arrest you, based only on his own judgment that you are creating a hazard for the public.
The CHP shut down this protest in Santa Rosa, claiming that it was illegal to hang protest signs on the fence, but the officer failed to write a citation for it, probably because it would not hold up in court. The protester was able to make the CHP Sargent cite a law and threaten to arrest him, if he did not disperse and that was recorded on video.
Caltrans employees confiscate freedom-of-speech protest signs. Caltrans blue collar workers are unionized by the communist-infiltrated SEIU, which is one of Obama’s biggest supporters in terms of donations as well as campaign workers. Obama worked for the SEIU in Chicago as an organizer.
A protester is violently shoved to the ground for no good reason in Fresno and arrested. He spent about five hours in jail before a bondsman bailed him out. He was charged with “obstruction,” although he did not obstruct anyone.
The town of Campbell, Wisconsin has passed an ordinance against overpass protests. This group of protesters wants to test the new law in court and they make sure that they capture his threat to arrest them on video. The letters on the back of their jackets spell “Impeach Obama.”