I’m going to a protest. What do I need to know?

3. Understand common charges during protests

Some of the responsibilities the police have are to:

  • preserve the peace
  • prevent crime
  • protect people's lives and property
  • help victims of crime
  • people who commit crimes
  • enforce city bylaws

The police aren't allowed to arrest you for protesting peacefully. But they can arrest you for committing an while at a protest.

Some of the common offences the police people for during protests include:

  • Mischief: damaging or interfering with someone else's property
  • Causing a disturbance: too much noise, loud fighting, swearing, being drunk, or blocking people who want to get by
  • Unlawful assembly: when a group of people gather together in a way that makes other people worry the group will harm people or damage property
  • Rioting: an unlawful assembly that actually does harm others or damage property
  • Trespassing: staying on someone's property after they've asked you to leave, or breaking the rules about someone's property on purpose
  • Assault: using force or threatening to use force against someone else
  • Obstructing a police officer: intentionally trying to prevent the police from doing their job, including lying to the police or giving a fake name

The police have legal powers to help them carry out their responsibilities, including the power to:

  • search you and your property
  • you
  • arrest you

The police can also contact immigration authorities if they find out you don't have immigration status in Canada. They may do this if, for example, you give them your name and date of birth and the police database shows that there's an immigration in your name.

The next step explains what your rights are if the police interact with you.

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