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We are at a very active time in New York for protests and marches for rights and for causes that people feel passionately about. The ability to do this without legal recourse is given to you in the U.S. Constitution under Article11, according to the Equality and Human Rights Commission. However, this right, as with any right granted by the highest law in the land, should be used with care because you are not completely free to protest or gather around a cause without having to follow certain laws.

The Constitution’s freedom of assembly and association offered through Article 11 gives you the basic right to meet with others to protest. It also gives you the right to join a union or a political party. You have the freedom to become part of any group you want, but nobody can make you be a part of such a group if you do not want to be.

As with all rights, though, there are restrictions. For example, if you gather with others in public, you usually need a permit to do so. This is done to protect the public and to keep order. However, all restrictions of this right must be in accordance with protecting the public. This includes stopping possible crimes or harm to others due to your group getting together.

At its heart, Article 11 is about gathering peacefully. If at any time your gathering turns violent or gets unruly, you lose the right to assemble and law enforcement may break things up. So, always keep this in mind. This information is for education. It is not legal advice.