7. Dealing with police and opposition

In addition to presenting a great Rally program for the people who arrive on December 1st, you also want to be prepared for others who may be present:

Working with police at the Rally

Generally speaking, the police will be cooperative and friendly. They’re there to keep the peace and ensure that your civil rights—including your rights to freedom of speech and assembly—are respected.

Choose a specific police liaison to whom all police interaction will be referred. This should not be the Rally emcee, who will be busy on stage, but one person who will be available to police at any time.

The police liaison should have the police non-emergency number on speed dial. Also on speed dial should be the number of the Thomas More Society Pro-Life Law Center: 312-782-1680.

Always treat the police with utmost respect. Let them talk first, and do not interrupt. Nothing turns a law enforcement officer against you more quickly than being interrupted.

Do your best to comply with reasonable directives from police, but don’t give them the opportunity to restrict your activities or location by asking too many questions. For example, if they ask you to reduce the volume of the P.A., do so, but don’t go out of your way to seek approval for the new volume level, risking an order to turn it down more.

If you believe a particular officer is making unreasonable demands, call the police non-emergency number and ask for a superior officer to come out. Do not ask the officer to do this: do it yourself.

Attorneys from the Thomas More Society (312-782-1680) will be available on the Rally day if you face a dispute with police that you are not able to resolve on your own.

In the unlikely event that you cannot resolve a dispute with the police, it is wiser to “obey today and sue tomorrow.” But don’t tell the police that this is your intention. Respectfully say that you believe the order is unjust, but that in the interests of moving forward with the Rally, you will comply.

But again, your interactions with police are likely to be positive. So after the Rally, be sure to thank them for being there and keeping things safe.

Dealing with counter-protestors

Many first-time rally organizers are concerned about having to face opposition in the form of counter-protesters, and given the historic nature of this day, some may indeed show up at your event.

But even if counter-protesters appear, conflict is unlikely. They’ll hold their signs and chant their chants, while you conduct your Rally. If you have a permit for the Rally space, you’ll have the advantage of the police having legal grounds to keep them at a distance.

If opposition does disrupt the Rally, call the police to take care of it. If violence is threatened in any way, immediately call 911.

Don’t let Rally participants “mix it up” with the opposition. Conversations are okay, but screaming matches are not. The goal of any interaction with opponents should be to charitably share our message and open doors.

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