Chicago Police DepartmentGeneral Order G02-02
The First Amendment and Police Actions
Issue Date:19 April 2012Effective Date:19 April 2012
Rescinds:25 October 2002 version
Index Category:Human Rights and Community Partnerships
This directive:
  • A.states Department policy related to citizens engaged in First Amendment conduct.
  • B.provides text of the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution.
  • C.describes a person's First Amendment rights upon the public way.
It is the policy of the Chicago Police Department to conduct all investigations for a proper law enforcement purpose. Each and every investigation must safeguard the constitutional liberties of all persons. Police conduct which may affect the exercise of First Amendment rights will be conducted in accordance with this directive. Department members may not investigate, prosecute, disrupt, interfere with, harass, or discriminate against any person engaged in First Amendment conduct for the purpose of punishing, retaliating, or preventing the person from exercising his or her First Amendment rights.
III.United States Constitution
  • A.The First Amendment
    • 1."Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."
    • 2.First Amendment conduct means speech or activity related to the freedom of speech, free exercise of religion, freedom of the press, the right to assemble, and the right to petition the government. The First Amendment protects, but is not limited to, the following rights:
      • a.The right to hold ideas or beliefs concerning public or social policy, or political, educational, cultural, economic, philosophical or religious matters;
      • b.The right to communicate or receive such ideas or beliefs, publicly or privately, orally, in writing or by symbolic means;
      • c.The right to associate and assemble publicly or privately with other persons concerning ideas or beliefs about public or social policy, or political, educational, cultural, economic, philosophical or religious matters (but not a right to associate or assemble for purposes unrelated to the right to hold and express such ideas or beliefs);
      • d.The right to advocate ideas or beliefs, including the right to advocate an alternative system of government and to advocate "the use of force or of law violation, except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless conduct and is likely to incite or produce such action";
      • e.The right to petition the government or governmental officials for redress of grievances;
      • f.The right to associate for the purpose of seeking and giving legal advice as well as advancing litigation.
    • 3.First Amendment rights exercised in public forums may be subject to content-neutral time, place, and manner regulations that support an appropriate governmental interest.
  • B.The Fourth Amendment
    • 1."The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."
    • 2.What a person seeks to preserve as private, including oral communications, even in an area accessible to the public, may be constitutionally protected under the Fourth Amendment.
    • 3.The Fourth Amendment protects against governmental intrusion not justified by an appropriate governmental interest.
IV.First Amendment Rights Upon the Public Way
  • A.The public way generally includes public property held open to the public such as city parks, public streets, and sidewalks. The public way does not include privately-owned property, such as the United Center, and publicly-owned property not open to the public, such as the working area of a police facility.
  • B.Persons on the public way have a right to:
    • their views through any form of communication, including distribution or sale of newspapers, magazines, handbills or other printed matter; and
    • 2.solicit financial contributions.
  • C.The rights protected by the First Amendment and exercised on the public way are not absolute and are subject to time, place, and manner restrictions, as well as any and all other applicable laws.
    Persons expressing views protected by the First Amendment on the public way are required to comply with laws prohibiting physical obstruction of the movement of persons and vehicles on the public way or place, and damage to public or private property.
  • D.Persons on the public way may freely distribute, without charge to others, material or messages containing First Amendment protected ideas.
    Generally, persons giving away items containing First Amendment protected messages are not considered peddlers or itinerant merchants and ordinances applicable to itinerant merchants and peddlers do not apply to persons freely distributing First Amendment protected messages. For example, campaign literature.
  • E.Speech Peddling: Persons Selling a Protected Message
    • 1.Section 4-244-141 of the Municipal Code of Chicago (MCC) defines speech peddling as a licensed peddler who sells or exchanges for value anything containing words, printing, or pictures that predominantly communicate a non-commercial message. Generally, this means a message relating to political, religious, artistic, and/or other non-commercial ideas and the message is the primary purpose of the item being sold. For example, a person who sells or exchanges for value a T-shirt which reads "Legalize Marijuana", or bumper stickers reading "Stop the Death Penalty" are engaged in speech peddling.
    • 2.Persons engaged in speech peddling are subject to geographic restrictions and permit requirements contained in the MCC. For example, no person shall be allowed to engage in speech peddling within the Central District without a speech peddling permit (4-244-141 (b) MCC).
Garry F. McCarthy
Superintendent of Police
11-101 TRH
1.G02-02-01 - Investigations Directed at First Amendment-Related Information
2.G02-02-02 - Other Police Action Which May Impact First Amendment Conduct