Understanding the First Amendment

The Difference Between Protesting and Rioting

(RepublicanNews.org) – When our Founding Fathers wrote the Bill of Rights, one of the very first fundamental rights they addressed was the freedom of assembly. Protests are as American as apple pie.

Our country was founded by a group of patriots who got together and protested. Eventually, their objections to the crown led to a rebellion, and the United States of America was born. More than 200 years later, citizens are still exercising their right to assemble. But then there are those who take advantage and begin to riot. That’s when the problems begin.

Raise Your Signs in Protest

The First Amendment of the Constitution states Congress can’t make any law that prohibits the “right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

Throughout our history, this right has moved the country forward. Women were given the right to vote after the Suffrage Movement in the late 1800s and early 1900s. In 1920, the 19th Amendment was finally ratified.

Although the 15th amendment was passed in 1870, Black people protested for the functional right to vote and overcome Jim Crow Laws in the 1950s and 1960s, culminating in the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The Vietnam War ended after prolonged and sustained activism in the US in the 1960s and 1970s.

Second Amendment protests happen all over the country, and they are peaceful. The Tea Party protests in 2010, were also a rally for change carried out by Americans who had no desire to cause trouble.

Although there have been flare-ups of violence historically, it never turned into the riots we’ve seen over the last 30 years.

Rioting Is NOT Protesting

The 1992 LA Riots were some of the worst in American history. What started as protests over the acquittal of officers who beat Rodney King, quickly devolved into a deadly situation when agitators took over. Buildings were burned and lives were lost.

Nearly 30 years later, the US is seeing similar unrest spread across several cities. Radicals have been joining peaceful protests and quickly begin committing criminal acts. They burn buildings, attack the police, and destroy cities. We’ve seen it time and again in cities like Ferguson, Missouri in 2014. Now, we are seeing it in Seattle, Washington and Portland, Oregon in 2020.

Do those people have the same right to protest? If that’s what they were doing, that would certainly be true. We may not agree with the core reason, but the Constitution is very clear that Americans have a right to peacefully assemble to air their grievances.


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