Basic Legal Questions
How do I determine if it's legal to protest at a particular location?
The First Amendment protects our right to protest in any location that is a "public forum" -- that is, public property that is open to the public at large. This includes sidewalks, parks, etc. Private property is more tricky, and will often depend on state or municipal rules. But as a general matter, if it's a space open to the public, you are allowed to enter and voice your concerns until the property owner asks you to depart.
What do I do if the police ask me to leave?
The first thing to say is politely say that your attorney indicated that you had a right to protest in a "public forum." If you are on private property, that will not apply, so you can indicate that you think the property issue is public (if you have reason to believe it might be). If police continue to insist that you leave, you should leave unless you are willing to risk a citation or arrest. But if you feel that you have been kicked off a public space, it might be worthwhile to get the officer's badge number and file a complaint.
What's the legality of doing a demonstration inside of a store or other clearly private property?
Your right to be on the property depends on the property owner. Until the property owner has indicated you are not welcome, it's perfectly legal to enter the premises with a complaint. Loud disruptions may lead to a disorderly conduct citation or arrest, but you are otherwise on perfectly legal territory until the property owner asks you to leave. Generally, police will not immediately cite or arrest you if your only arguable violation is trespass. They will first ask you to leave the store, which you should comply with unless you are prepared to be arrested.
What happens if I'm banned from the store?
If the store tells you not to come back, entering the store again would be considered trespass. However, in many states, including California, minor trespass is not a criminal offense, so as long as you don't break property, harass customers, the most that could happen is a citation. Like jaywalking, many minor offenses are ignored.
Do I need a lawyer?
It doesn't hurt. If you'd like one to consult with, reach out to us, and we can ask people in our network with legal training to give you some local-specific advice.