On this day in 1913, Gandhi was arrested in India while leading miners in a march to protest a tax on former indentured workers. After being released on bail, he returned to the march and was arrested for a second time. The idea of being arrested for expressing your political opinion may seem like a violation of the basic rights to speech, expression and congregation. However, in the United States, protests still often lead to arrests.
Most recently, protesters from the Chicago Teachers Union were arrested after entering the offices of Sterling Bay, a development company that protesters believe are receiving funding that should be spent on schools. The sit-in was ended by police arresting the protestors, though the sit-in was a part of the large Chicago Teachers Union strike, which as of Oct. 30 has canceled nine days of school, according to NBC 5 Chicago.
Earlier in October, 20 protesters were arrested in Hawaii after they attempted to block construction equipment from the site of a wind farm, according to AP. Protesters have been fighting the wind farm project for a decade, AP reports, and duct-taped themselves together in the road to block the equipment and halt the project.
A recent high-profile protest arrest was on Oct. 26 of actors Jane Fonda (Grace and Frankie) and Ted Danson (The Good Place). Fonda had been arrested on the two Fridays previous as well, according to CNN, but this was Danson’s first arrest. The pair were a part of the recent climate protests in Washington, D.C., and 32 people were arrested for “unlawfully demonstrating” in an intersection, according to CNN, while the New York Times reports that 16 people were charged.
Even closer to home was the Oct. 1 arrest of four protesters outside of Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich’s office. The protesters were arrested for blocking access to the building’s driveway in an attempt to call for policies to fight climate change. Climate change groups have endorsed Elrich in the past, but according to the Montgomery County Sentinel, protesters believe Elrich and the county have not taken large enough steps toward their environmental goals.
We live in a politically active area, and it’s essential to follow safe practices and know your rights before going out to fight for what you believe in. When protesting, make sure to bring a buddy, charge your phone, and have your ID and cash. The ACLU has a comprehensive guide to protesters rights on their website, but remember that you have the right to protest in public places, as long as you do not disrupt traffic without a permit and the right to photograph anything in plain view. If you are stopped, stay calm and ask if you are free to leave. Protesting is an important tool to change governments and the world, but stay safe out there.