Exercising Your Rights to Assemble for Worship in Public Places in Hawaii

This guide provides basic information on how to legally assemble and exercise your rights according to First Amendment of United States Constitution.

Exercising Your Rights to Assemble for Worship in Public Places in Hawaii

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution guarantees the right of individuals to publicly express their opinions and views. This guide provides basic information on how to legally assemble and exercise your rights. The First Amendment protects expressive activities, such as marching, waving banners, or leading a protest, when the primary purpose is to communicate political, religious, philosophical, or ideological opinions, views, or ideas and no fee is charged for participating or attending. However, if several people are involved in your protest, you may need a permit.

It is important to consult a lawyer or the government agency responsible for the place where you want to protest in advance to better protect yourself from arrest. Once a protest begins, it is essential to obey police orders and not harm or endanger other people. Attacking a police officer, even verbally, can be considered a crime.


revised its rules regarding signs that are placed during parades and protests after the ACLU of Hawaii filed a lawsuit. The State Department of Transportation Services also has regulations that restrict manual billing in certain areas of Waikiki.

You are allowed to have a table (or other portable piece of furniture) on the sidewalk to display literature or other expressive material as long as it does not block the sidewalk and each person's table cannot measure more than 5 feet x 2 feet (or a total of 10 square feet). See general rules for streets, sidewalks, and other public places. In parks and city buildings, you need a permit for amplified music & megaphones. On sidewalks, regulations seem to indicate that during the day and early at night you can play musical instruments (even play coffee cans or drums) and use a megaphone without permission; however, there are complicated zoning rules that establish general noise levels and the City Council is considering new laws that could restrict megaphones and instruments. If a police officer tells you to stop playing music or using a megaphone, follow the officer's instructions and contact our office. On sidewalks, streets, and parks you can't use a radio, tape recorder, cassette player, or other device to play sound if the sound is heard more than 30 feet away.

For First Amendment activities in parks, the City does not require permits to play musical instruments and does not limit the playing of musical instruments to certain designated locations. You can't make loud noises (such as explosives) within 500 feet of a hospital. If a park prohibits camping then it prohibits camping for everyone; however some parks allow overnight camping with a permit. In addition some public spaces are open 24 hours a day such as public sidewalks. You cannot set up a tent in a city park or on state land. See state regulations regarding temporary structures and shelters here.

You generally can't be inside a public building after it's closed to the public. You can't ignore the rules simply because you participate in a First Amendment activity. The police need probable cause to believe that you have committed a crime in order to arrest you. If a police officer sees that you're breaking the law that's usually enough to allow the officer to subpoena or arrest you. It is important to remember that no lawyer or organization like the ACLU can advocate for an intentional illegal act. Probably not but if you use any type of physical force against the officer you could be charged with another crime such as resisting arrest.

Not if it remotely resembles a real weapon (unless you participate in a “living history” presentation or other activity for educational or historical interpretation purposes or participate in a parade with “an established historical organization, a museum, a military preservation organization, or other similar group”). This can be very dangerous for you because law enforcement can respond as if it were a real weapon. Yes unless you hide your identity while committing a crime (or trying to evade capture after committing a crime). This was clarified for state and county workers in a lawsuit settlement filed by the ACLU of Hawaii. This document applies only to Honolulu County. If you plan to have more than 75 people in a city park (or 150 in the case of Kapiolani and Ala Moana parks) you'll usually need a permit.

If you want to block the streets (whether on foot by bicycle or in some type of vehicle) you generally need a permit no matter how many people you expect. As long as the sidewalk is open to the general public it is possible to protest on sidewalks during night time. However it is important to remember that some parks prohibit camping for everyone while some allow overnight camping with permits. It is important to remember that what is protected by First Amendment activities are those where the primary objective is expression dissemination or communication of political religious philosophical or ideological opinions views or ideas and no fee is charged for participating or attending. If your goal is recreational event or making money then rules may be stricter. Finally never forget that attacking police officers even verbally can be considered as crime so it is important to obey police orders at all times.