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Civil Rights Archives

What is my right to remain silent?

Every human being in the United States has the right to remain silent. The right to remain silent, also known as your "Miranda Rights," refers to your ability to refrain from speaking, and thereby refrain from unintentionally incriminating yourself when you're interacting with a police officer. Although you have this right, however, you may need to invoke your Miranda rights directly by stating, "I am exercising my right to remain silent."

What's the Architectural Barriers Act of 1968?

Numerous federal laws offer different civil rights to the American public. Some of these laws protect individuals with disabilities from suffering from discriminatory practices, and they also help these individuals have equal access to various public buildings and facilities. The Architectural Barriers Act of 1968 is one of these federal laws. It applies to government buildings and facilities that are leased, remodeled, constructed and/or designed through the use of various federal funds.

How are civil rights and civil liberties different?

The terms civil rights and civil liberties are often used interchangeably; however, they are two very different concepts. For example, civil rights are granted to individuals via the federal government, through case law and various civil rights laws. Civil liberties on the other hand are freedoms afforded to individuals by way of the constitution.

Police misconduct basics: What you should know

Police have the power and ability to enforce the law. However, they cannot use excessive force when carrying out their duties. Under the United States Constitution, police in New York and elsewhere are limited in their ability to exert force depending on the situation and context.

What is the history of the Civil Rights Bill of 1866?

The first civil rights bill -- the Civil Rights Bill of 1866 -- became law on April 9, 1966, when the House of Representatives overrode the veto of President Andrew Johnson. According to the language of the bill, "all persons born in the United States" were "declared to be citizens of the United States." It's important to note, however, that the bill did not provide citizenship to indigenous Americans.

Prisoner holding times and the right to receive a speedy trial

Every person accused of a crime will remain innocent until -- and only if -- he or she is proved to be guilty beyond reasonable doubt in court. However, when police arrest someone for allegedly committing a crime, the individual will temporarily lose the right to freedom.

How does the Fourth Amendment protect me?

The Fourth Amendment is all about search and seizure and personal privacy as it applies to criminal law. If a law enforcement officer violates the Fourth Amendment in order to obtain evidence that will be used against you in criminal court, for example, this evidence may be thrown out and cannot be used against you.

Statistics on racial profiling in the United States

Racial profiling by police in New York and throughout the United States is a serious problem. Statistics point to the fact that law enforcement officials frequently select who they will pull over or stop based on race, and if you are a member of certain racial or ethnic categories, you're far more likely to have an interaction with a local law enforcement officer.

Police brutality: When can police use lethal force?

New York City police officers perform the valuable public service of keeping us safe from criminal elements. However, there are times when police become overzealous in their application of the law, in addition to becoming overly violent. There are times when violent -- even lethal -- force is required by police to carry out their duties, and there are times when it's clearly not required.

Will you be arrested at a protest?

As America's political climate grows more contentious, people of all political affiliations are taking to the streets to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech and to petition the government for a redress of grievances by assembling in public, usually through organized marches. Unfortunately, mass action does not always stay peaceful, and when that happens, local law enforcement are obligated to move in. Sometimes, police actions seem unmotivated, but they can be easier to predict if you understand why and how officers arrest people at a protest. After that, it becomes easier to understand how you should deal with the situation if it happens to you.

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