Peaceful protests a protected right

Ethan Maurice, Staff Writer

The First Amendment of the Constitution states: 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 assemble we have.

Since the presidential election, there have been many lawful forms of speaking out. From the Women’s March, to #notmypresident, some have been effective, and some not so much.

My message is simple.

It is our obligation to keep protests in line – that is the “peaceably” part of our right to assemble. It is not to discourage protesting. It is not to encourage protesting.

Many people disagree with what the government does. Everywhere in the world, it is legal to have an opinion. Luckily, in our great country, it is legal to share that opinion. Historical figures Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. offers a good example of an effective peaceful protesters. He exercised his rights and played within the rules to bring about change.

Protesting is an action that requires balance, otherwise it leads to instances of civil unrest.

It is hard to pull off a “good” protest. To do so requires two things.

First is stay within the laws. Know your rights and know where you are allowed to go. Knowledge is power, but also, be aware of the consequences. Civil unrest is just that, unrest.

The second is to get your point across. This is the obvious goal, but it has to remain secondary. The chances of change get much smaller once you are placed in a jail cell. The people and ideas you are protesting against have just as many freedoms and rights as you do, including the right to life.

In this time of sweeping political change, there is, of course, disagreement. Some will feel that we have made negative changes. That is why people protest, even while others feel the nation is heading down the correct path.

Protests can help raise awareness and bring about change. However, it is a very easy object to misuse, and poor activism can be dangerous. These displays of togetherness and strength in numbers must always be done in a peaceful manner.