Chicago Police DepartmentGeneral Order G02-02-02
Other Police Action Which May Impact First Amendment Conduct
Issue Date:19 April 2012Effective Date:19 April 2012
Rescinds:13 October 2010 version
Index Category:Human Rights and Community Partnerships
This directive:
  • A.informs members of their obligations to protect the First Amendment rights of law-abiding individuals who encounter a hostile audience threatening to create public disorder, as described in the judgment order entered in Nelson v. Streeter,, No. 88 C 5434.
  • B.provides members with the text of the judgment order entered in Nelson v. Streeter,, No. 88 C 5434, as Attachment No. 1 of this directive.
II.Protections of First Amendment Rights in a Hostile Audience Environment (CASE 88C5434)
  • A.Judgment Order 88 C 5434, Nelson v. Streeter,, relates to Department members’ responsibilities at public exhibitions of ideas which may result in hostile reactions from those viewing or hearing the exhibition. The entire text of the judgment order is included as Attachment No. 1.
  • B.Department members will protect the free speech rights of all persons, no matter what the particular message, position, or philosophy espoused, and even if other people are offended by it, as long as the person expressing that message, position, or philosophy is not violating the law and has abided by any reasonable time, place, and manner restrictions placed on the expression of such ideas.
  • C.In an incident where a hostile audience threatens a speaker, artist, exhibitor or art work or where there is a danger of harm to persons or property, members will:
    • 1.if art work or other expressive material is involved, attempt to ascertain who owns or has right of custody of the material;
    • 2.advise the speaker, artist, or exhibitor, if present, of his or her right to continue their expression at the current site;
    • 3.begin or continue police protection so as to allow the speaker, artist, or exhibitor to continue his or her expression of speech or art;
    • 4.request that a supervisor respond to the scene.
  • D.A supervisor who responds to the scene where an expression of speech or art is threatened by a hostile audience will determine if the assignment of additional police personnel will allow for the continuation of the expression.
  • E.If members determine that the expression cannot continue at the original site due to the activities of persons hostile to the expression, the highest ranking sworn member on the scene will determine that:
    • 1.all police resources reasonably available have been deployed to maintain the peace and allow the expression to take place;
    • 2.police efforts to take direct action against those violating the law have not been successful, and;
    • 3.there remains a threat of imminent violence that police personnel are unable to control.
      If reasonably possible, members should consult with the Office of Legal Affairs or City of Chicago legal advisors prior to taking action to discontinue a public expression of speech or art.
  • F.The expression may be discontinued at the original site when the highest ranking member on the scene determines that:
    • 1.order can be restored:
      • a.only by taking the expressive material into custody; or
      • b.otherwise discontinuing the expression.
    • 2.available alternatives of continuing private custody have been considered but cannot be deployed.
    • 3.when expression is discontinued, it should be permitted to resume as soon as the highest ranking member on the scene determines that order has been restored and can be maintained if the expression resumes.
  • G.Any expressive material taken into protective custody will be inventoried according to general inventory procedures. The owner of the material will be advised of his or her right to immediately reclaim the material at the unit of inventory.
Garry F. McCarthy
Superintendent of Police
11-101 TRH