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Legal implications

Knowledge is power. Having knowledge of the legal system and the legal implications of particular causes of action can better equip campaigns.

It is crucial to remember however; that the fact particular protests options have legal implications should rule them out. Decisions about what actions to take or what political strategy to pursue should not be made (solely) based upon what is legal and what is not legal. There are many very important and valid reasons why campaigns and activist will choose to pursue strategies and causes of actions that are likely to have legal repercussions. There is a long and proud history of civil disobedience.

At times, activists and protest organiser may ask people providing legal support questions such as ‘what are we allowed to do?’ and more dangerously ‘what actions should we take?’ and ‘what should we do?’ For example the Legal Support Team working to support Occupy Melbourne were asked these sort of questions regarding where and how to camp to avoid police and Melbourne City Council harassment. It is important to remember and stress that decisions about how and where to protest are political, tactical and strategic decisions.

These are decisions that should be made by activists, however made with full knowledge of the legal implications of particular courses of actions. They are not decisions which should be made by lawyers supporting or acting in solidarity with the campaign, whose additional duties (to clients and to courts) may lead to them prioritising objectives which differ from the campaign objectives.