You are a municipal police officer working foot patrol in a public commons area during a large protest. The organizers of the protest have obtained the necessary city permits to be there, and the police department has received advanced notice of the event. This particular protest is in response to the shooting of a young black woman by local officers. The woman was unarmed when she was shot and killed, and she had no criminal history; nonetheless, the officer involved in the shooting was acquitted. The protesters today are angry that he is not going to be punished. As the protest progresses, one speaker hollers, “If we are not going to get any justice, we’ve got to take justice into our own hands.” The next three speakers urge the listeners to disobey the police. You are aware of the speakers’ First Amendment rights, but because of their specific messages you are concerned that the crowd will become violent and will direct their violence at you and your fellow officers. Answer the following questions:
a. Do you allow the protest to continue, or do you shut it down early?
b. What steps should you take to avoid the possibility of violence?
c. What other information do you need before making a decision?