The right to protest


To the Editor:

Imagine living in a world where you can’t voice your opinion on matters that will affect you for years to come because you’re not old enough. As a teen in today’s America sometimes that’s what it feels like, but the founders of our country gave us the right to use our voice through protests and petitions. When you see thousands of people, young and old, joining together to speak their minds on issues they feel strongly about it gives teens reassurance.

Recently, people have been speaking their minds more than ever before. On January 21 people, not just women, banded together all over the world to speak out for their rights. The Women’s Marches were “not anti-Donald Trump, but instead is a forward-looking, positive demonstration” (Stars to align for women’s march). The statement made by the organizers of the marches is so important because it is the very reason behind the marches. Most people thought that the people marching were doing it because they were anti-Trump when they were marching because they want to speak their minds in a positive way. The Women’s Marches show that you have the right to speak your mind in a peaceful way and your voice will be heard.

We have the right to protest, but when those protests turn violent and puts others in danger is where our rights end. Our rights as citizens go until we are violating someone else’s. On the day of Trump’s inauguration angry, violent protests broke out throughout Washington D.C. damaging businesses and other property.

There have been others marches and protests recently, for example the anti-abortion marches, and the anti-pipeline protests. All these are examples of people exercising their first amendment rights. Washington state Senator Doug Ericksen wants to outlaw protests against President Trump because of the damage to property. This bill would violate American citizen’s First Amendment right. I do agree that if property is damaged amid protest police should be called but outlawing protest all together would detain us from speaking our minds and letting our voices be heard. The bill would make it a felony to take part in a protest that is “aimed at disrupting economic activity that also threatens human life and property...The law also would apply to anyone who funds, sponsors or organizes such protests” (Wash. legislator wants to criminalize anti-Trump protests, USA Today) This means that if you donate to an organization that holds a protest that stops traffic, or disrupted a neighborhood you would be held responsible. The bill also targets high school students that want to take part in protest, rallies, etc. in their own neighborhood.

We have the right to protest and that right shouldn’t be taken away. Making donation to foundations we believe shouldn’t be outlawed, making donations to cancer foundations or a children’s hospital is the same thing as donating money to Planned Parenthood or an LGBTQ foundation. Is Senator Ericksen going to outlaw my donation to the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital’s road race? If we give up out right to protest we’ll lose the voice our founding fathers gave us when they outlined our government.

Allison Smith

East Greenwich


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