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COVID-19/Coronavirus Update

WHAT IS A DISPERSAL ORDER AT A DEMONSTRATION OR PROTEST?

Published: 06/04/2020




WHAT IS A LAWFUL DISPERSAL ORDER AT A DEMONSTRATION OR PROTEST?
 
It’s no secret that peaceful protests and demonstrations are taking place across the country and here in Southern California.  We had a large one ourselves this past Monday and we are sure there will be others in our city.  The Riverside Police Department will be ready to help facilitate the peaceful right to gather in protest so that all participants can feel safe while doing so.  But let’s be honest, there are people whose intent is to only cause disruption to the peaceful events by committing violence, damage, and threatening the public safety of our community members, businesses, and even law enforcement and fire personnel.  
 
In situations when the rioters make themselves known to interrupt the peacefulness of an event, their unlawful actions may dictate the need for a lawful dispersal order.  What should you do when you hear that order? 
 
When you hear the lawful dispersal order given, everyone in the immediate area described in the order has an obligation to leave.  The order will include routes for people leave through with time to do so safely.  But if you choose to stay in that described area in defiance, California Penal Code (P.C.) 409 makes it a crime to remain at a riot, or unlawful assembly, after having been ordered by law enforcement to leave, and you will be arrested.
 
Law enforcement has a duty to maintain the safety and security of everyone in our city, and declaring an unlawful assembly is something only used when the safety of those involved and the general public will diminish if allowed to continue.  As what we encountered this past Monday, the rioters began to cause violence and disruption to the peaceful event.  After several dispersal orders given to those remaining, 7 arrests were made for failure to disperse, per 409 P.C.
 
We want our community members to exercise their First Amendment rights in a safe and peaceful manner without disruption from others.  Please help us keep everyone safe in our city of Riverside.