The First Amendment of the Constitution of the U.S. states, among other things, that “Congress shall make no law…or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the…right of the people peacefully to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” This not only is a political right, it is a basic human right, an inalienable right and one of the basic of all civil liberties.
We have read about successful assemblies in our nation’s Capital and elsewhere around the country since its formation. There have also been instances when assemblies started out lawfully but degenerated into bloodshed, due to the actions of those unwilling to keep it peaceful. Famous examples include the Camp Jackson Affair in St. Louis on May 10th, 1861, the Ford Hunger March in Dearborn, Michigan on March 7, 1932, the Kent State Massacre at Kent State University on May 4th, 1970 and although there were no deaths, we all remember the recent incident at the University of California, Davis on November 18, 2011 when Occupy Movement protesters were maced by police while having a sit-in. Considering that we welcome free speech in the U.S., I am sure someone will consider at least one of the above examples justified. It can be argued that a fine line exists between a peaceful assembly and an unlawful assembly, but the argument would be very short because a distinct difference exists between the two. The legal definition of an unlawful assembly is “A meeting of three or more individuals to commit a crime or carry out a lawful or unlawful purpose in a manner likely to imperil the peace and tranquility of the neighborhood.” Sadly, history is replete with incidents where the actions of a few turned a peaceful and lawful protest into an unlawful assembly. This breed of scum are called agitators. Members of a lawful assembly should always be on the lookout for the unruly among them. They range between overzealous protesters to mercenaries planted by the opposition.
Just yesterday in Washington, DC, a group of citizens descended upon the National Mall to protest the placement by the Obama administration of barricades in front of such monuments as the Lincoln Memorial and the World War Two Memorial. The ‘barrycades’ (as they are lovingly called in reference to Obama’s childhood nickname of Barry) had been erected because of the government shutdown – at least that’s what the official government explanation was – although it is extremely ironic that the number of government employees used to keep the barricades up exceed the number of employees needed to keep the monuments litter-free. The protest had been organized and named the “Million Vet March,” and drew an assembly of thousands. If you really want to get down to brass tacks, the lawful assembly became unlawful as soon as the Vets began tearing down the barricades, but handcuffing paraplegic Vietnam Vets and wheelchaired World War Two Vets would have been a PR nightmare for the Administration. As it was, the protestors not only removed the barricades, they carried them to the front of the White House and deposited them in heaps there. You can’t say our Veterans aren’t thoughtful or clean up after themselves. They may have been technically unlawful, but they were certainly peaceful. We can learn from them.
There did come a time when Park Police (dressed in riot gear, complete with plastic restraint straps and pepper spray) arrived and formed a line (that’s what they do very well, btw). A few protesters began shouting “Shame on You!” and calling them Brown Shirts and other such things, but the other protesters hushed them up quickly. This is one of the secrets in a successful strategy of non-violent protests. There must be no reason for law enforcement to escalate the situation. We know that happens sometimes anyway (as mentioned above) but in today’s atmosphere of technology when everything is recorded by multiple people, a protest movement is wise not to instigate aggression. This is where the Occupy Movement failed (although they failed for a number of other reasons as well) because elements within the Movement broke numerous laws such as larceny and assault, which are just reasons for the authorities to break the protest up for good. The good citizens in the National Mall yesterday exercised good judgment and restraint, and for that I commend them.
The 2 Million Bikers to DC rally on 9/11/13 was the opening salvo of multiple waves of protesters coming to Washington DC. Some are more organized than others, but so far there has been no violence. I hate to say it, but sooner or later some jerk in the crowd is going to throw something at the police trying to start a riot. I hope the guy next to him has enough good sense to knock the jerk out and hand him over to the authorities. There is a revolution brewing in this country, dear reader. It is a revolution against the tyranny and corruption and greed and incompetence found in record numbers within our government. If we use our heads we can institute change, restore liberty and preserve our Constitution without loss of life. I hope a leader emerges (he or she might already be in our midst) who can unite us all against the forces threatening to destroy our nation. I hope we can remain well organized and civilized, because if we don’t, you know the government will have no qualms about putting the hammer down on us, and it has a BIG hammer.
Protest! Raise your voice! Keep your ear to the ground for local assemblies or national rallies and participate, please! You can get out of the house without getting out of the house by sharing information with others on the internet or donating to a cause you believe in. But listen, if a 94 year old World War Two Vet can make a trip across the country to help remove barricades from our national treasures, you can surely help in some way, too. Just remember: it’s ok to be outraged, as long as you don’t turn it into a violent brouhaha. It’s ok to shout out your protest, as long as you don’t drag us all into a bloody donnybrook. It’s ok to fight the power, as long as you keep it civil. Now let’s go out and make change we really CAN believe in!
Photos taken from The Blaze
Photo 01 by @Gabrielmalor
Photo01 by @Gabrielmalor
Photo03 by @MelissaRNMBA
Photo04 by @JudgeLucas
Photo05 by @WhitneyWaters14
Photo06 by @ZephyrK9