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Some overdue thoughts about protest marchers

afraidofthose

(Seth Wenig/AP)

Initially I was sympathetic to the thousands of individuals who took to the streets across the country to protest the deaths of Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown and the obvious shortcomings of our law enforcement and justice systems. But it’s time they found other, more constructive ways to express themselves.

Do the protesters not see the irony of demonstrating against the police when it’s police who protect them as they march? Do they not see they are building frustration and animus among those whose businesses and daily lives they are disrupting, those whose support and understanding they need? Do they not see how they have and are emboldening those who would resort to violence, people like Ismaaiyl Brinsley who murdered two NYC officers last weekend?

And here in Denver on Dec. 3 police officer John Adsit was struck and dragged by a car while escorting and protecting student protest marchers who had cut class to march. Adsit was critically injured and is still in critical condition after 8 surgeries (10 surgeries as of Dec. 24). I have no sympathy for students who used the protests as an excuse to cut class when they could have waited till after school, nor for those who inspired them to do so.

Yes, Americans have a right to protest and demonstrate. But when doing so becomes counterproductive to their cause or dangerous to others — as these marches have — it’s time to stop.

 

10 Comments »

  1. All you write above is true, yet anecdotal. And I’m sympathetic to the notion the utility of mass street protest had begun to stumbled to the end of it’s effective shelf life. ( A really subjective call) But I’m also mindful that professional agitators, left and right, and with far different agendas than the current “cause” have invected protest whenever possibly, and likely put disruptive practices in play. So a time limit on assembly and grievances shouldn’t be subject to the guerrilla logic of, you’ve got the watches, but we’ve got the time.

    But any sense of ballast between citizens and the thin blue line was blown deeper into troubled waters with the assassination of two police officers, and the follow on race bating remarks by the police union head of NYC finest, as well as that noun, verb, and nutcase formerly known as “America’s Mayor.”

    Perhaps the protest did touch some demon touring the killer’s mind, but the vast majority seek sane solutions and what we see, and what we say should not be subject to the whim of crazy, North Korea, or narcissistic political players.

    • I imagine that’s the strategy of NYC law enforcement and elsewhere — just try to keep everyone safe and calm until the demonstrators get tired and go home. Except two police officers have died, another is in critical condition, and I think others have been attacked.

      I understand the NYC police are upset, but I don’t see why they are lashing out at the mayor. Maybe the protests are having some effect after all — divide and conquer the power structure.

      • I think you are right …it will get cold, colleges will start up again….
        still not a good idea for so much “tolerance” especially when the mayor isn’t coming out mentioning the ethnic makeup/diversity of their police force…hardly KKK. And the supervisor who ordered the arrest of the man selling cigarettes (the store owners were complaining to the station), why doesn’t she speak up? Being black, maybe she could lower the tone a bit.
        I was sympathetic at first, but this isn’t about race or just justice. It’s about disruption.
        Our police are under fire here, too. Serious threats.
        Everyone needs to be very careful.
        What a holiday season.

  2. Ayup. Same kind of stuff that happened with the Occupy Movement. Here locally, when the sun would set, they became unruly and defied the law as if all people should be immune from any laws or just orderly conduct. I’d see people watching just shake their head and I know they’re thinking why would anyone want to support and back people who are, basically, a pain in the ass, a rebel, uncooperative, etc. I asked a few people who supported the unruliness once why they were defying the police orders to get off the street and go home. No real answer except that they felt it was the way to get people’s attention. I told them it was negative attention, though, and people don’t want to support trouble-makers. They really had no response. That’s when I realized that their primary purpose was to rebel and be an anarchist. Not to help change our government and society for the better.

  3. As usual, the people who use the Constitution as a blanket to cloak their activities in the garb of ‘rights’ overlook the restraints and conditions the Constitution imposes.

    Demonstrators have a First Amendment right to peaceably assemble, the key word being peaceably. When or if the assembly interferes with the right of others to go about their business as usual, or becomes a deliberate disturbance of the peace, it becomes, by definition, an unlawful assembly.

    In addition, the police are under no obligation to assist demonstrators in conducting their assembly peaceably. That obligation rests entirely on the shoulders of the demonstrators.

    Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr wrote, in a mid 19th century opinion, “The right to swing my fist ends where the other man’s nose begins.”

    • If the marchers got parade permits, then the marches are lawful. And whether they’re lawful or not, the police are there trying to keep order and protect everyone, marchers and bystanders alike. If it’s unlawful assembly, then I assume the police are acquiescing because they are so outnumbered and because it’s better to just keep the peace. (Normally, obstructing traffic would get you arrested.) One has to wonder about motive, though, when the marchers insist on parading through the streets, tying up traffic, etc., when they could just assemble in a park.

      I’ve invoked Justice Holmes’ quote many times. And yes, it’s apropos in this case.

      • PT, your reply includes some incorrect assumptions that reflect the prevailing misunderstanding these days about the relationship between law enforcement and citizens, and the duties and responsibilities of both groups.

        I am not going to list them because they are easily recalled by reviewing a high school civics textbook. You know what they say about assumptions, don’t you?

        • I should have said “speculating,” not “assuming.” That was a careless choice of words. Especially when I don’t happen to have a high school civics textbook on hand, nor a copy of NYC ordinances.

"Nothing is more dangerous than ignorance and intolerance armed with power." ~ Voltaire

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