ASSEMBLY, right of public meeting can hardly be said to be known to the English constitution. It is nothing more in law than the right of an individual to conduct himself as he will without trespassing upon the corresponding rights of others or infringing any special law. Accordingly, an assembling of numbers together and marching in procession through streets, or a meeting on a public highway (Burden v. Bigler), is not in itself unlawful. To be so, the assemblage should be tumultuous, to the disturbance of the public peace, and against the peace of the king. If the assemblage is peaceable and the disturbance be caused by others outside the assemblage, the persons composing the assembly would not, for that reason, have committed an offence. It might probably be otherwise if a disturbing opposition were the known, necessary, and inevitable consequence of the assembly. An unlawful assembly has been said to be a disturbance of the peace by persons barely assembling together with the intention to do a thing which, if it were executed, would make them rioters, but neither actually executing it nor making a motion towards its execution. But this seems to be much too narrow a definition. For any meeting whatever of great numbers of people, with such circumstances of terror as cannot but endanger the public peace and raise fears and detraction among the king's subjects, seems properly to be called an unlawful assembly. This would be the case where a great num
ber of people, complaining of a common grievance, meet together, armed in a warlike manner, in order to consult together concerning the best means for the protection of their interest ; for there no one can foresee what may be the consequences of such an assembly. The circumstances of terror must exist in the assembly itself, either in its object or in its mode of carrying it out.
When the rights of a public assembly are interfered ciao; by another such assembly or private individuals, or even by dispersion by the police, the only proper vindication is through the courts. Resistance and strife with an opposing assembly or individual would mean an afftay. Any resistance at all to the police mould be still more illegal. • IL is illegal advice for any one to advise a public assembly when the police attempt to disperse it, to stand shoulder to shoulder, when such advice means refusal to disperse, and resistance to the police ; even though not a resistance to the extent of striking. Peaceable citizens are not performing their duly if they stand shoulder to shoulder, and when the police arrive and order them to disperse, do not disperse but insist upon remaining. Front that moment assembly becomes an unlawful assembly, the people comprising it no longer peaceably sustaining any right or duty. See RIOT.