What are we really seeing on the nightly news? Are they really protesters or are they criminals? I think most of us agree that burning police stations and car dealerships is rioting, it’s illegal and probably domestic terrorism. But what about the protests that are lacking burning buildings and cars flipped over, what about those protests when they just sit in the middle of the street and refuse to move? We’ll take a look at the normally left leaning ACLU rules for protesting and see if the left is following the lefts rules.
- Your rights are strongest in what are known as “traditional public forums,” such as streets, sidewalks, and parks. You also likely have the right to speak out on other public property, like plazas in front of government buildings, as long as you are not blocking access to the government building or interfering with other purposes the property was designed for. Republic Matters Analysis – In other words we can protest on streets, sidewalks and plaza’s as long as we don’t obstruct or interfere with non-protesters right-of-way. Can anyone name 1 single recent protest that didn’t obstruct the street, the sidewalks and everything they could possibly obstruct?
- Private property owners can set rules for speech on their property. The government may not restrict your speech if it is taking place on your own property or with the consent of the property owner. Republic Matters Analysis – How many of these building owners have given permission for these “peacful protests” of recent? I’m not sure how to find out which buildings did or didn’t give permission, I’m going to guess less than 1%.
- Counterprotesters also have free speech rights. Police must treat protesters and counterprotesters equally. Police are permitted to keep antagonistic groups separated but should allow them to be within sight and sound of one another. Republic Matters Analysis – Stone Mountain, left protesters allowed to protest, right protesters no allowed to protest.
- When you are lawfully present in any public space, you have the right to photograph anything in plain view, including federal buildings and the police. On private property, the owner may set rules related to photography or video. Republic Matters Analysis – Not much of a problem for either side, photo, video all you want.
- You don’t need a permit to march in the streets or on sidewalks, as long as marchers don’t obstruct car or pedestrian traffic. If you don’t have a permit, police officers can ask you to move to the side of a street or sidewalk to let others pass or for safety reasons. Republic Matters Analysis – Now we get to the really interesting part, “no permit needed to protest in the street as long as pedestrians don’t obstruct car or pedestrian traffic.” It’s that last part that I find so interesting, “as long as you don’t obstruct car traffic”. I’ll rephrase that in plain english: “You need a permit to march in the street unless that street does not and will not have a single car on it for the entire duration of your protest.”
Given the ACLU’s very own rules for protesting legally, how many protests can you think of that were actually legal? Not very many, there’s been a few granted, even one near me and I applaud them for keeping it peaceful and legal (They marched on the sidewalk and the police department required them to get a permit). Those legal protests are few and far between. In fact, if you watch the national news, liberal or conservative, you won’t find a single legal protest on the national news. Even these so called peaceful protests are often illegal.
Now moving on to the point, if it’s not a legal protest then it’s illegal. I do take issue with the above ACLU rules that state “police officers can ask you to move to the side of the street or sidewalk…”, which is true but it’s not the whole truth. The whole truth is that in most jurisdictions the police officer can ask you to move or they can issue a citation for j-walking, obstruction of traffic, disturbing the peace, and probably a dozen more misdemeanors and if you refuse to be detained you’re resisting arrest. If you’re breaking the law you’re no longer a peaceful protester, you’re a criminal.
Why then can protesters not just do it legally. Seems simple, protest, yell, show your signs, chant your rhymes, get your message out, just do it with a little commonsense and you’re nearly assured to go home safe and return the next day. Stepping out into traffic really only proves one point and that point is how stupid you are.