Ellie’s Expression: Peaceful protests are effective

Eleanor Marshall
Opinion Columnist

Senior Jamie Tabron participates in the Black Lives Matter protest at Webster Groves High School on Sept. 18. Photo by Natalie Johnson

“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 to peaceably assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”
The First Amendment

This amendment was written in 1789, but it is still relevant today.
The amendment applies to the recent events in Charlottesville. On Sat., Aug. 12, a group of Alt-Right white nationalists, organized by Jason Kessler, gathered to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. Things got violent when a group of counter protesters showed up.

Both groups were expressing their views, when out of nowhere at 1:42 p.m., a car driven by James Alex Fields drove into the counter protesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 other people.

Fields has been charged with second-degree murder, three counts of malicious wounding and one count of hit-and-run. The police made three other arrests: Troy Dunigan, 21, charged with disorderly conduct, Jacob L. Smith, 21, charged with misdemeanor assault and battery, and James M. O’Brien, 41, charged with carrying a concealed gun.

After the events, President Donald Trump tweeted that we must stand together as one. Two days later, he specifically targeted the Alt-Right group as being the problem. However, the next day, he seemed to change his mind saying that there was “blame on both sides.”

This is true.

According to an article written by New York Times reporter, Farah Stockman, “Groups that identify as anti-fascist — also known as ANTIFA (pronounced an-TEE-fa) — have been physically confronting neo-Nazis, white supremacists and, in some cases, speakers who merely challenge the boundaries of political correctness on college campuses across the country.”

Charlottesville Daily Progress photographer Ryan Kelly said, “There were a few small fights that broke out from time to time. People were throwing stuff at each other. A few people were beating on each other.”

Washington Post reporter Joe Heim said, “Counter-protesters fought back, also swinging sticks, punching and spraying chemicals. Others threw balloons filled with paint or ink at the white nationalists. Everywhere, it seemed violence was exploding. The police did not move to break up the fights.”

No matter what side one believes in, he/she must admit that the whole situation was handled incorrectly. If both sides had been peaceful stating their opinions, Heather Heyer would still be alive, and many others would be uninjured.


See Also: Slideshow: Protesters demonstrate at local mall


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