Friday, December 19, 2014

Phrase of the Week: TO PROTECT AND TO SERVE [Part 6 of 7]

Today, I continue my seven-part series commenting on events in Ferguson, MO, Cleveland, OH, and New York City, N.Y.   Yesterday, I addressed the public's response to these events.  Today, I continue from yesterday by addressing the response to the response.

The grand jury decisions in both the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases and the shooting of  twelve-year-old Tamir Rice have sparked protests all across the country.  They reached far beyond the cities where the shootings took place and included protestors in the tens of thousands.
© WJLA-TV, News Channel 8

In fact, not only had the protests spread across the U.S., but they also spread outside the U.S., including London.

When protests turn violent, as they did more prominently in Ferguson, MO, albeit in other locations as well, the idea of the protest is lost.  The focus of what is specifically being protested is clouded.  I have mentioned the participation of anarchists in these and other protests with the goal of chaos.  The result can be huge misinterpretations of the protestors being all in favor of destruction of property and not really being in favor of a cause.  Those who have protested, including myself, or who have watched protests in the past, know that the actions of a few are not the actions of the many (or all).  Still, that perception exists.

In my mind, Mr. O'Reilly does so in a rather imperfect and incorrect manner, but I think he raises the point that there are those who hold the view that the actions of the minority of people is the same as the actions of everyone in the protest.  My disagreement with that view could not be stronger, but that is the very reason why protests need to be free of violence.  It will lessen, if not completely wash over, your message.

I have known people who have stated that going out and protesting does nothing.  It is just a group of people blowing off steam, affecting no real change.  I have had people laugh at me for my participation in protest marches.  To those people, I offer the following:

You know that document called the U.S. Constitution?  Yeah, you know the one; the one that has been ripped at and torn apart so many times?  In that document, in the very first amendment to it, there is a phrase that states "the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."  That's right, Americans have the right to assemble in public to protest (petition) an issue in order to bring about a setting right of what they see as wrong (redress of grievances). 

That means shutting down peaceful protests is against the Constitution.  That also means that the protestors need to be peaceful or else they are going against the Constitution, as well as breaking the law.  If any citizen, members of law enforcement, or members of government have trouble seeing that, then there lies a fundamental problem.

Some have said they have no problem with the protests being linked as similar to the civil rights protests of the 1960's; others have said they do.  Whether you see a parallel or not, it is important to keep in mind that it was those very same protests that brought about the changes that were being sought (i.e. Voting Rights bill, Civil Rights bill).  Also, do not forget to include the protests for the Women's Suffrage movement in the early part of the 20th century as another example. 

Were there people in the 60's who thought it was just a blowing off of steam, an opportunity to create violence, a bunch of kids who didn't know any better, etc.?  Undoubtedly so.  And yet, the protests went on undeterred and many changes, big changes, were brought about.

The protests need to continue now in order to bring about the changes that are desperately needed.

I suppose those who say that marching in the streets does little to nothing in the way of change could be seen as correct, if you look at it from an instant gratification standpoint.  Protest on, say, a Saturday and no change comes Saturday, or Sunday, or Monday?  Then what good did that do?  No smart person, let alone one who protests, knows that large changes come quickly or easily.  It is a continuum; it is a progression.  It is done step by step, day by day, year by year, and, if necessary, generation by generation.  Those same naysayers might even agree that large changes never come quickly enough ... or that local politicians and state politicians do not work fast enough ... or that the government couldn't care less, but fail to apply that same understanding of how things work to those who protest.

The denial of Constitutional rights is always wrong; protests must be allowed to continue without the fear of violence from law enforcement.

Violence begets violence, not understanding.  Destruction destroys opportunity.  Both are always received poorly and always create negative perceptions. 



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