Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign rallies have become a fixture in the 2016 election season as much for the candidate’s rambling speeches as for the frequent interruptions of said speeches.
Demonstrators have filed in to Trump rallies across the country, shouting their anti-Trump messages and promptly being ridiculed by rally-goers and led out by law enforcement.
On Saturday, Trump began to call for the arrest of protesters as he was repeatedly interrupted, raising questions about the legality of protest and whether Trump can press charges against demonstrators. So what are the answers?
The short answer is, no.
In 2012, H.R. 347, a federal law dealing with protest, was amended to make it a crime to “disrupt the orderly conduct of government business or official functions” in areas where the Secret Service is providing protection.
The Secret Service began protecting Trump in November (they also provide security for Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders).
What happens to protesters, then?
Is it legal to protest a Donald Trump rally?
So how do protesters protest?
Demonstrators are technically relegated to free speech zones much like the ones seen on college campuses.
Such zones are often used to keep dissenters away from media attention, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
At a recent Trump event at Valdosta State University, in Georgia, the two designated free speech zones were not in sight of the arena where the rally was held. One was a quarter mile away.