Upholding the Constitution during mass demonstrations in Hawai‘i

The ACLU of Hawaiʻi always monitors developments regarding protests and law enforcement actions during these protests. This includes the protests happening around telescopes on Haleakalā and Mauna Kea. Anyone whose rights have been violated can contact our office with reports, complaints, etc. We are a private non-profit government watchdog. All reports are confidential. To make a report or ask about legal help: https://acluhi.org/need-legal-help/

The ACLU is always concerned when law enforcement and protesters clash, because law enforcement has the power to make arrests, detain and restrain, even to use deadly force. Such authority is not unbound. It must be exercised responsibly and constitutionally. A national movement is growing to push back against widespread police militarization, violent escalation in encounters with law enforcement, unconstitutional racial profiling, and selective enforcement. Add to this a renewed spirit for public protest, mass demonstration and direct action – and the likelihood of encountering law enforcement goes up exponentially.

The ACLU is here as a resource for everyone.

• For lawful protesters just wishing to hold a sign in a public place – you are exercising your first amendment rights, and law enforcement should first and foremost respect your right to protest.

• For those engaging in civil disobedience – if you want to conduct your protest in a manner that violates the law or a lawful police order because you feel that only such action will be effective, that is your decision and thousands of others – from Gandhi to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. – have done so in the past. But those who engage in such civil disobedience are breaking the law, and must expect to be arrested and prosecuted. No lawyer or legal services organization such as the ACLU can advocate a deliberate illegal act. While the ACLU cannot encourage or condone civil disobedience, we do stand for the rights of ALL people to be treated in accordance with the Constitution: with care, due process, and without excessive force by law enforcement.

• For those in law enforcement – you are bound by your oath to the Constitution and the law. That job is not easy, it requires a cool head and a commitment to simultaneously and impartially uphold the rights of everyone. All of Hawai‘i is looking for your leadership, your clear and concerted efforts to de-escalate and truly keep the peace.

If you are injured or your rights have been violated by law enforcement:

  • Get immediate medical attention.
  • Document everything as soon as you can. Date, time, location, weather, parties present etc.
  • You have the right to record the police so long as you do not interfere with legitimate police business.
  • If any third parties were taking video, or can act as a witness, contact them and (if there is video) get a copy as soon as you can.
  • Take photos of your injuries.
  • Get the names and badge numbers of any law enforcement officers involved.
  • Get a copy of any law enforcement reports from the incident.
  • If you wish, initiate a formal complaint to the law enforcement agency as soon as possible (these have time limits).
  • If you wish, copy your complaint and report to your local ACLU.
  • If you wish to pursue a case for damages and compensation, consider hiring a private attorney.
  • Finally, get informed and involved in local efforts to have community control and oversight over law enforcement.

For more information, refer to our First Amendment Toolkit: https://acluhi.org/first-amendment-toolkit/

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