First Amendment Assemblies

First Amendment Assemblies - Policy 427

427.1 Purpose & Scope

  • This policy provides guidance for responding to public assemblies or demonstrations.

427.2 Policy

  • The Forest Grove Police Department respects the rights of people to peaceably assemble. It is the policy of this department not to unreasonably interfere with, harass, intimidate or discriminate against persons engaged in the lawful exercise of their rights, while also preserving the peace, protecting life and preventing the destruction of property.

427.3 General Considerations

  • Individuals or groups present on the public way, such as public facilities, streets or walkways, generally have the right to assemble, rally, demonstrate, protest or otherwise express their views and opinions through varying forms of communication, including the distribution of printed matter. These rights may be limited by laws or ordinances regulating such matters as the obstruction of individual or vehicle access or egress, trespass, noise, picketing, distribution of handbills and leafleting, and loitering. However, officers shall not take action or fail to take action based on the opinions being expressed.
  • Participant behavior during a demonstration or other public assembly can vary. This may include, but is not limited to:
    • Lawful, constitutionally protected actions and speech.
    • Civil disobedience (typically involving minor criminal acts).
    • Rioting.
  • All of these behaviors may be present during the same event. Therefore, it is imperative that law enforcement actions are measured and appropriate for the behaviors officers may encounter. This is particularly critical if force is being used. Adaptable strategies and tactics are essential.
  • The purpose of a law enforcement presence at the scene of public assemblies and demonstrations should be to preserve the peace, to protect life and prevent the destruction of property.
  • Officers should not:
    • Engage in assembly or demonstration-related discussion with participants.
    • Harass, confront or intimidate participants.
    • Seize the cameras, cell phones or materials of participants or observers unless an officer is placing a person under lawful arrest.
  • Supervisors should continually observe department members under their commands to ensure that members' interaction with participants and their response to crowd dynamics is appropriate.