Our Freedoms: Freedom to Peaceably Assemble

A lot of us take our freedoms for granted. Some of us even abuse them. They’re all there for a reason, and our right to peaceably assemble is an important one.

I suspect the basic concept was started by the Boston Massacre. A group of colonists were protesting British rule and were gunned down. This ticked off a lot of people and was one of many things that led to the American Revolution.

One of the least understood aspects of this freedom is the word “peaceable.” Peaceable means without violence. Violence in an assembly of people can turn deadly in a hurry. It’s not good for the cause of the assembled and it’s in violation of the terms of the amendment.

Cities, states and the national government have laws that must be obeyed, even during a peaceable assembly. If those laws are broken, it is the responsibility of the police to deal with the guilty. It is not supposed to be “handled” by those in the assembly. This includes rape, theft and murder.

Some of the laws that should be obeyed involve not blocking streets and not camping in the parks. There are good reasons for this. Blocking the street can prevent someone in critical need of medical care from getting to a hospital. Sleeping in the parks invites people not part of your movement to mingle among you and cause you harm.

Peaceable also means that you do no harm to others. Breaking windows and destroying a person’s property or business has no part in this amendment, either. Remember…no violence.

This amendment does not condone any sort of violence. If violence occurs, then the assembly is no longer lawful. That means that the police have not only the right but the responsibility to end the assembly. Any who resist are arrested, because they are breaking the law and they are no longer covered by any clause in the Constitution or Bill of Rights.

That does not mean that all of the police do things the right way all of the time. There have been times when the police have overreacted. Not as often as some might claim, but the evidence is always there for us to see. Large groups of people protesting anything attract media attention like flies to honey. Police brutality is just as much a violation of the law as any of the others. However, that is a separate issue that should have it’s own dedicated report.

It’s easy to cry “brutality” when necessary arrests are made. However, where is that cry when a woman gets raped? Isn’t that brutality? What about when someone is shot to death…by one of those assembled? Is that peaceable? I think not.

If you want to protest, by all means do so. Change sometimes needs a voice. However, if you *are* going to protest, do it legally, morally, ethically and properly. Anything less and you are worse than whatever you are protesting against.


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