Chris Y. Wright/The Ballston Journal Online

The Paper Bag: “Blocked Freedom”

Dozens of Anti-Trump protester blocked a major highway leading to a Donald Trump rally in Arizona for a few hours. This caused major traffic delays and ultimately affected citizens who could not care less about Donald Trump, this presidential election or politics in general.

I am someone who admittedly is Anti-Trump, but I am also pro freedom of speech and freedom of expression. I am not a proponent of exercising your freedom when as a result, it inconveniences citizens with no skin in the game and no opinion for or against. Let us accept that some people just do not care; and that is perfectly ok.

On Black Friday 2015, America’s busiest shopping day of the year, the Black Lives Matter movement decided to protest and block entryways to Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. Although I sympathize with and support many of the talking points of Black Lives Matter, I admonish their tactics of inconveniencing American citizens, many who empathize and do care about their cause; just not on Black Friday! It’s Christmas shopping time and the day before was Thanksgiving. Black Friday is a day that we put aside our difference and soldier on for a common prize: Shopping for big things with small prices, and may the best man or woman win!

Donald Trump is not the first presidential candidate to be protested. During the election cycle of 1860, Senator Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois was heavily protested in the south because many thought his stance on slavery was too moderate. He was yelled at, cursed at and pelted with rotten vegetables as he urged the assembly of supporters and protestors to calm down. In 1960 when John F. Kennedy was running for president, anti-catholicism was very prevalent in America. People feared that the Pope would be making decisions for our country. As ludicrous as it may sound, it’s no different than comparing Trump to Hitler today. JFK was met with protestors holding signs reading “Say no to the Pope For President”. Protestant congregations across the country formed unions against Kennedy.

In both of these instances, what you did not see was people blocking supporters from hearing their candidates speak or preventing apathetic citizens from going about their daily business. Some anti-Trump demonstrations have taken place inside of the buildings where Trump rallies are being held. I am against this also. Anyone and everyone should be free to attend, but to cause a distraction or openly protest inside of a rally for the candidate is inappropriate in my opinion. If you disagree with the candidate’s viewpoints, stay away and support someone that counters his or her agenda.

In fact, did you know, it is illegal to protest or demonstrate at an event where the Secret Service is providing security? Yes. In 2012, the House of Representatives passed a bill, H.R. 347 reads:

(a)Whoever—

(2)knowingly, and with intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, engages in disorderly or disruptive conduct in, or within such proximity to, any restricted building or grounds when, or so that, such conduct, in fact, impedes or disrupts the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions;
(3)knowingly, and with the intent to impede or disrupt the orderly conduct of Government business or official functions, obstructs or impedes ingress or egress to or from any restricted building or grounds; or
(4)knowingly engages in any act of physical violence against any person or property in any restricted building or grounds;
or attempts or conspires to do so, shall be punished…

The beauty of the Constitution is that it allows us the full breath of what it means to be American. Being American is more than just citizenship. Being American is a way of life unlike anywhere on the planet. More importantly, the Constitution allows us to be free to speak our minds, with and without consequences. The first amendment highly rebukes interfering with the right to peaceably assemble. You cannot scream that your Constitutional rights have been violated and in turn violate other’s.

Let us all be civil, fair and just. Freedom is not to be blocked, thereby violating the spirit which makes us Americans.

The views and opinions expressed in The Paper Bag by Chris Y. Wright are not necessarily those of The Ballston Journal Online LLC, their staff or management.

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