Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
That is the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights. Every American citizen can peacefully protest if their heart desires. The key word here is peaceably.
I haven’t protested in a while. But recently, many Americans have. In Ferguson, Missouri, after white police officer Darren Wilson shot and killed unarmed black teen Michael Brown, protests erupted. I usually don’t include race when describing incidents, but this situation is necessary because even though it was not about racism, many people made it out to be. The protests soon turned into riots. People “protesting” burnt down buildings and looted local businesses. That is not protected by the First Amendment, and it is not peaceful. They ruined more people’s lives in their community.
Anyone can protest. People protested Michael Brown’s death in Florida, New York, California, and all over the United States. I personally didn’t see the reason to protest because I looked at all the possible facts and didn’t see a reason to, but people can protest despite my opinion.
After the unfortunate death of Eric Garner in Staten Island, people protested more. Rev. Al Sharpton led protests in Ferguson and Staten Island, connecting the two independent cases. People roared falsely about racist police.
The protesters in New York City remained peaceful, which is legal. However, they eventually blocked traffic in Manhattan and on the Brooklyn Bridge, which is not legal. A few protestors, including a CUNY professor, assaulted a NYPD officer. These incidents were not peaceful, which is why some people were arrested. On December 3, protestors marched to shut down the Rockefeller Center Annual Tree Lighting. The NYPD blocked off a few roads and they did not accomplish their goal. I was there at the tree ceremony and I have to say the NYPD did a very good job of keeping things peaceful and organized. Unfortunately in the weeks to follow, protesters started to incite violent. They chanted,
What do we want? Dead cops!
When do we want them? Now!
These chants and more comments from Mayor de Blasio eventually pushed one man over the edge. This is when Officer Ramos and Officer Liu were executed in their squad car a few days ago.
Protests have consequences. They call for change, and that is what happened. The NYPD are now a “war time police” for the first time since the 1970s. New Yorkers know their history, and New York in the 1970s was not a very pleasant time. Everyone has the right to protest, but keep it peaceful and try not to invoke violence.
In the Vatican, a feminist protester from the group “Femen” stripped naked and wrote the words “God is Woman” on her bare chest. She stormed the nativity set in St. Peter’s Square and stole Baby Jesus.
Again, another situation where peaceful protests would be fine, but storming a nativity set, stealing and public nudity is inappropriate (no matter how attractive the feminist is).
So, note to protesters: To help your point, remain peaceful and don’t do stupid things.