Occupy Ventura’s legal team is working to help make this a peaceful, non-violent gathering so we can best present our message to the largest number of people.

Freedom of press and speech – ACLU

Top 7 Things That Get People Arrested at a Protest

aka:  How to NOT Get Arrested

Activist Lawyers are always telling people what to do if they are arrested at a protest. Most people prefer not to get arrested to begin with. The top 7 things that get people arrested at a protest demonstration are:

Stepping into the street when there is no permit to do so.

This is the #1 thing that gets protesters arrested. It is kind of “the test” to see if you are going to be orderly and safe, or not. If you don’t have a permit to be in the street, stay on the sidewalk and cross on the walk light.

Blocking the sidewalk so others cannot pass.

Blocking or getting too close to a doorway or staircase to a building.

Making too much noise without a permit or at the wrong times/ places. Almost any megaphone usage violates sound ordinances in any city.  We will have more info on what our permit allows re: sound at Wednesday’s Assembly.

Damage to public or private property, including hanging banners or signs on buildings, poles or trees, writing on buildings or walks, climbing trees, standing on benches, touching or harming vehicles, writing with marker on anything you do not personally own.

Not following reasonable orders or instructions from the police or other officials.

Forming a large, uncontrolled group not in an orderly fashion — in other words, violence, obstruction, or antagonistic actions.  Respect others.


It is illegal to post, hang, affix, or attach any signs or banners or streamers onto public trees, street poles, lamps, or buildings. This is considered damage to public property.

Poles and sticks for protest signs should be lightweight for legal reasons as well as practical ones.  Broomsticks, aluminum poles and lumber can be considered weapons, and are clumsy to carry to boot.  These dimensions are generally tolerated by officials:

Flat sticks: No more than ¼” thick by 2” wide.

Round pole: No more than ¾” diameter.

Some of these poles/sticks will be available at Wednesday’s Assembly for sign making, but please bring your own (and lots of them!) in these sizes.

Other Common-Sense Guidelines

Litter: Do not put any paper, wrapper, or empty bottle on the ground even for a second. Hold all litter and carry it to a trash can or take it home.

Solicitation: No one should solicit anyone for money. If someone needs to collect money to buy food or something, this should be done quietly between friends. Aggressive solicitation is illegal.

Airborne: Don’t throw anything in the air …this can turn a “protest” into a “riot.”

Fire: Don’t light any fires or burn anything, for any reason, even a bonfire or to stay warm. It is not okay to start a fire in a container. Do not bring propane.

Dangerous items: Obviously, don’t bring guns, knives, fireworks, explosives, sticks, martial arts equipment of any kind, glass containers, pipes.  Less obvious but still considered dangerous:  heaters, sky lanterns, chains, large rings of keys, bike locks or other locks (except to lock your bike, not to carry with you), laser pointers or other lasers,  hooks, sprays, canisters, chemicals, poisons, cleaning fluids, or any other type of potentially dangerous item.

Graffiti: Don’t bring any spray paint, other paint, paint markers, or chalk. Do not do any tagging or graffiti. Do not write or draw on anything other than your own piece of paper. It is illegal to make any mark on any public or park property.

Alcohol: No alcohol possession or drinking in the park. No public intoxication.

Respect nature: Don’t post any signs on trees, don’t climb trees, don’t hang anything in trees. Do not let anyone else climb or disturb trees or shrubbery. Do not take or break any branches. Do not pick any flowers or plants. This is all considered damage to public property or to park property.

Sanitation: Use a real toilet. Bring toilet paper.


If someone is doing something illegal, do not follow them. Walk quickly away from them and do not participate. Warn others also not to get involved.

This is a peaceful protest for peaceful, productive people only. Those inciting or engaging in violence are not welcome.

For example, if someone steps into the street, do not follow. If someone starts throwing something, move away. If someone starts any flame, move away quickly. If someone tries to stir up trouble, avoid them. These people will most likely be arrested, and generally, that is for the safety of everyone.

The Fine Print:

City of Ventura public assembly regulations can be found at:   in Divisions 10, 18, and 20, which includes the permit process.

The pertinent Ventura regulations for conduct in public places are collected in this document:

The National Lawyers Guild

“The National Lawyers Guild is an association dedicated to the need for basic change in the structure of our political and economic system. We seek to unite the lawyers, law students, legal workers and jailhouse lawyers of America in an organization that shall function as an effective political and social force in the service of the people, to the end that human rights shall be regarded as more sacred than property interests. National Lawyers Guild chapters are working hard to provide legal support for Occupy protests nationwide.”

I have also been in contact with Susan Basko, who is the most visible legal advisor to Occupy LA and asked for any advice from her experience.

Here is her OLA legal page:



1 thought on “Legal”

  1. Lisa Lorea Bailes said:

    More information can also be found at:

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