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685 THE YALE LAW JOURNAL FORUM JANUARY 20, 2018 The First Amendment Freedom of Assembly as a Racial Project Justin Hansford abstract. Beginning with the author’s own experience of being arrested as a legal observer during a 2014 protest in Ferguson, Missouri, this Essay explores the fragile protection provided by the freedom of assembly for those who fight for racial justice. The Essay rejects free speech proponents’ reliance on the First Amendment’s ostensibly instrumental role during the civil rights movement to protect hate speech today. Instead, it demonstrates how authorities have al-ways chilled civil rights speech more than white supremacist speech, contextualizing cases from the civil rights era as examples of occasional exceptions made during short intervals of interest convergence. The Essay then goes on to examine the contemporary administration of freedom of assembly norms, asserting that law enforcement continues to undermine the rights of racial jus-tice protesters on the ...