September 22, 2020

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People peacefully protesting in street
Photo Courtesy: Pexels

How Can I... 

Welcome back! Today’s blog is entitled “How can I protest?”

If you are paying attention, you know there is a lot going on in the country and the world right now. One of those things is protesting. Protesting can look like many things - taking to the streets peacefully, boycotting a company’s products and services, or even starting respectful discussions among your peers. The First Amendment gives people the right to peacefully assemble; it is your right. 

Protesting allows our opinions to be heard.

When thinking of protesting in 2020, you might immediately think of those surrounding the Black Lives Matter movement. Black Lives Matter originally started “in response to state-sanctioned violence and anti-Black racism.” The belief is that all Black lives matter, no matter how they identify with “sexual identity, gender identity, gender expression, economic status, ability, disability, religious beliefs or disbeliefs, immigration status, or location.” These protests are happening across the country to bring awareness to the Black Lives Matter movement and the racial injustice that has been going on within our country.

I have not gone to a protest on a street in my life quite yet, but I have protested. I participated in Summits In Solidarity. People hiked several of the 4,000 foot mountains in New Hampshire, and at 1pm, everyone at the summits kneeled in silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the amount of time that Derek Chauvin pressed his knee to George Floyd’s neck. The protest brought awareness to racial injustice. While at the summit, many people asked my group what we were doing. When we explained, some thanked us for bringing attention to racial injustice. 

Protests bring awareness to social movements and activism. The goals of a protest are usually to “influence public opinion, draw attention to and share information about a perceived injustice, gain a wide audience for the cause, push public policy or legislation forward, or learn about an issue.” You can get more information about protests that are happening by searching an organizer’s name. For Black Lives Matter protests, you can find more information here.

Anyone wanting to protest can do it in their own way. If you do choose to attend a protest on a street, know your rights:

  • You have the right to speak on the streets, sidewalks, and any other public property. 

  • Private property owners are allowed to set rules of speech on their property. 

  • If there are counter protesters, they also have the right to free speech and police should treat both groups equally. 

  • When you are in a public space, you are allowed to photograph and videotape anything that is in plain view. 

  • You do not need a permit to march on the streets, as long as you are not blocking traffic from getting through, you are allowed to march on the streets. 

  • Tell a family member or friend where you are going to protest to be safe. 

  • Check the laws of your local government regarding protesting.

Protesting is just one way to make your voice heard. Another way is by voting. Stay tuned for next week’s blog about voting.

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