Protest mobs hide behind the constitutional right to “peaceably assemble” but when the purpose of a mob is to protest with angry signs, verbal assaults, physical violence, and to block pathways and to intimidate by force or coercion, it is not peaceably assembling.
Our Founding Fathers did not envision hateful mobs organized and paid for by political opponents intruding into government due process, invading another person’s rallies, making Congressional hearings a circus, forcing their way into elevators to trap public officials, lining roadways to curse and yell at people they hate, and physically beating on doors, passing cars, and storefronts to intimidate and cause high levels of duress.
When you read their works, it is clear that our founders meant for these people who dissent to be able to meet together peaceably on their own, figure out what their stance is, and protest by making known their redress of grievances—speaking about it, publishing something, or organizing a demonstration of their own. It did not include the right to assemble in order to intrude upon, attack, intimidate, and disturb others who were going about their lives or assembling or demonstrating for their own causes.
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Protests ought to be looked at carefully especially because they have devolved into mobs where verbal assaults, physical vandalism, intimidation, and inciting public fear are all involved. Rather than let these unhinged violent, hateful, and angry mobs gather, something needs to be done to change the laws and preserve the right of citizens to be free from intimidation, fear, and harm, including the mental harm that is caused by such violent and irrational behavior. All violent and irrational behavior is threatening and citizens and public servants should not have to endure being threatened and in fear for their lives.
An individual who wants to protest something against a certain individual or group should not be able to go block the roadways leading into that individual’s or group’s home, office, building, or meeting place. They should not be allowed to line the streets where that individual or group and their supporters will have to pass so they can scream and yell at them, curse at them, threaten them, and cause duress and intimidate them. That is not peaceably assembling. That is criminal assault and should be treated as such.
Even if no physical violence ensues, it is not peaceable when angry people are allowed to threaten and intimidate verbally and spread fear. Citizens and supporters are not comfortable passing through an angry group that is against them, especially after having seen news of how uncontrollable these angry mobs are and how often they erupt into violence and people get hurt as well as property destroyed.
Congress needs to clarify the constitution and pass a law so that protesters or protest groups are not able to meet closer than perhaps a quarter mile or a half mile away from the people or location that they are protesting. Any protester caught demonstrating within the “peace zone” should be charged and arrested for trespassing and if they get violent, charge them for a hate crime.
They are not peaceably assembling.
Making laws to clarify what it is to peaceably assemble is not a violation of freedom of speech as some will claim, including those who want to engage in violent protests. No one is telling them they cannot speak about their grievances or address them. No one is telling them they cannot demonstrate and make their causes known. Not at all.
What laws will do is protect the freedom and rights of citizens to go about their lives in peace and safety as they engage in their guaranteed pursuit of happiness. Clarifying what it is to peaceably assemble will nip the organized mob hate and violence in the bud. It will take the wind out of the sails of this uncivil and angry movement and restore the rights of citizens and public servants to be free from being accosted with vile and threatening attacks.
There is a distinct difference between peaceably assembling and throngs of angry people with a mob mentality and it is Congress’ duty to address this problem and clarify it constitutionally or with a law so that angry and violent mobs do not get out of control and spark civil disorder and unrest that leads to unnecessary violence and death.
It’s time to act, Congress.
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