Nathan Keirn, Wikimedia Commons
The First Amendment gives people the right to be a part of a peaceful protest in public places such as parks and sidewalks. In light of recent events, people have taken it upon themselves to show their discontent with different injustices. Whether it is a peaceful or violent act of defiance, people still seem to be critical. This in turn raises the question of what is the “right” way for people to protest.
Recently, the University of Berkeley students organized a protest against a sold-out speech by Milo Yiannopoulos, who is a Breitbart editor and prominent right-wing supporter.
Yiannopoulos’s college tours have received a lot of attention for his inflammatory rhetoric. According to the New York Times, during a visit to University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Yiannopoulos ridiculed a transgender student.
Berkeley students wanted to cancel the speech sponsored by the school’s Republican club, so they organized a protest. This protest, however, turned violent resulting in a number of injuries, so law enforcement officials intervened.
The violent aspect of the protest received a lot of backlash from both sides of the political spectrum. President Donald Trump threatened to defund the University of Berkeley. Some might argue that this protest added fuel to the already unstable political division. However, it is also important to note that even peaceful protests receive negative backlash.
Although peaceful protests are legal, some protesters are still arrested, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.
“Unfortunately, law enforcement officials sometimes violate this right through means intended to thwart free public expression,” said the ACLU website.
The Dakota Access Pipeline protesters are an example of peaceful protests that have results in numerous arrests. Protesters have camped out in Standing Rock to fight the construction of a pipeline that risks damaging the water supply. The Morton County Police Department has estimated the arrests listed as protesters being almost 600. According to PBS, law enforcement officials have also tried to disperse protesters using water hoses and tear gas.
Peaceful protests are not only receiving a lack of fair treatment from law enforcement officials, but civilians are also criticizing peaceful protests in general.