The right to protest

William T. Robinson, Jr.

In recent news coverage, we have encountered the alleged harassment or violation of personal space while in public, and the targeting of individuals by some protesters as those targeted underwent their daily routine. These endeavors may include walking or jogging in their designated communities or attempting to dine out in specific restaurants. These singled out individuals are high profile figures noted for their participation in issues that are controversial and considered to cause harm to designated groups.

Many people feel that protests that violate a person’s private life outside of their workplace or professional confines are unwarranted and an invasion of one’s personal space. When is enough, especially when you have incendiary issues that some feel warrants immediate measures to correct?

Contrary to how one may feel about the right to protest or to what degree, we must acknowledge that as citizens in this country we have the right to protest as long as we are peaceful and are not provoking or causing bodily harm to any individual or group.

Some people are quick to argue about the effectiveness of protesting since in recent times it has initiated little if any changes involving political, economic or social change. Our elected representatives as a whole seem immune to the cries of so many of their constituents demanding changes to correct the injustices and wrongs occurring daily around us. Perhaps our elected officials, especially the ones in Congress, see physical protesting and verbal assaults against egregious and controversial issues in our society as a way for the public to vent. But they don’t seem to take the protests too seriously—seeing that the status quo or business as usual all too often continues.

Surely our government, big corporate businesses, and specific special interest groups must not have carte blanche to harm or take advantage of the public for self-serving reasons—especially excessive greed. There must be some forms of restraint, such as our voting power and ability to protest and to address and rectify horrendous abuses taking place in our society.

The public should not be brainwashed into believing that they are wrong by combating the ills running so rampantly in our communities, especially those spearheaded or surreptitiously supported by bureaucrats or systemic organizations that all too often don’t have the public’s best interests in mind. If we the public were truly aware of the nightmares that encompass us, we would be unapologetically and uninterruptedly screaming in the streets for change.

One must be mindful that we have elected officials whose jobs make them accountable to the public.

They do not have the luxury of privacy in public venues, and they should have been aware of that responsibility when they took the job.

Those with positions that compromise their morals, integrity, and values should consider finding another job.

A paycheck isn’t worth selling your soul. Being able to live with yourself should supersede everything else.

Let’s also be cognizant that there are loopholes that exist protecting those guilty of wrongdoing or malfeasance, and it is up to the public to minimize or eradicate these abuses by protesting or bringing public or national objections against these issues when they surface. Our legal system is not immune to injustices and flagrant improprieties that will continue if left unaddressed, making it all the more important for citizens to peacefully assemble and protest when necessary.

Many find it insulting and appalling when they are told how to protest without making the ones they are confronting feel uncomfortable. Isn’t confronting and bringing attention to contentious issues one of the main reasons for protesting? Give the public a break. That is like telling the foxes surrounding the henhouse not to commit carnage against the hens.

No one should advocate harm or physical abuse towards anyone during a protest.

Verbal accusations of wrongdoing are warranted. Perpetrators must change or be eliminated.

Their abusive and discriminatory practices are unwelcomed.

Making certain alleged individuals or parties complicit in wrongdoing feel uncomfortable and guilty is fair game and necessary to help bring about resolutions to many contentious cases. No one should be above public condemnation or ridicule when you have issues that detrimentally impact people’s lives.

Everyone is entitled to his or her own opinion.

But telling another person or group not advocating harm or abuse toward others how you’d prefer for them to protest without hurting others’ feelings is unrealistic and ineffective.

Protesting is about peacefully riling other’s feelings—hopefully to inform and educate, bringing about corrective change.