Protesting in Arizona Could Lead to Criminal Charges

Opinion Article: The Right to Protest

Protests are a fundamental way for people to express their opinions on political and social issues. However, what happens when the act of protesting becomes a criminal offense? In Arizona, a state with a complicated history of protests and civil rights, this scenario has become a harsh reality for many.

History of Protests in Arizona

Arizona has a long history of protests, beginning in the 1960s with civil rights and anti-Vietnam War activists. In the 1970s, the largest recorded protest event in Arizona occurred when Sombrero Corporation workers went on strike over low wages and poor working conditions. In more recent years, Arizona has seen protests against police brutality, immigration policies, and gun laws.

The Criminalization of Protesting in Arizona

Despite the history of protests in the state, the Arizona legislature has passed several laws criminalizing various aspects of protest activities. In 2016, Arizona lawmakers passed a bill expanding the state's racketeering laws to include rioting, and earlier this year, Governor Doug Ducey signed a bill into law that'd make participating in a protest that turns violent a felony offense. As a result of these and other laws targeting protesters, many who participate in protests now run the risk of being charged with criminal offenses.

Free Speech or Crime?

The debate over whether protesting is protected under the First Amendment or a criminal act has taken center stage in Arizona's political landscape. Those who oppose the criminalization of protesting argue that the right to peaceful assembly is protected by the Constitution and that laws that impede protesting promotes authoritarianism and is a direct attack on democracy.

Consequences of Criminalized Protesting

There have been numerous cases in Arizona where protesters have been charged and prosecuted for participating in peaceful protests. For example, in 2017, several protesters were charged with felony rioting for demonstrating outside a rally featuring former President Donald Trump. The charges were later dropped, but the episode illustrates how the criminalization of protesting can lead to the suppression of free speech.

The Importance of Fighting Back

For anyone who's been charged with a crime related to protesting or for those who support free speech and the right to peaceful assembly, it's important to know their rights and seek legal representation. In Arizona, hiring a criminal defense attorney can be the key to avoiding a criminal record and preserving their right to free speech.


Protesting is a fundamental right that allows individuals to express their opinions and hold the government accountable. However, criminalizing protesting is a direct attack on this right and, ultimately, democracy itself. Those who support free speech and the right to peaceful assembly must work together to fight back against the criminalization of protesting and protect the First Amendment.

Criminally Charged for Protesting in Arizona-

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