First Amendment foul play: Journalists are necessary to document Mizzou protesting

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Last week, a communications professor at the University of Missouri made a mockery of the First Amendment. In the wake of the school’s president resigning and the announcement of the chancellor’s resignation at the end of the year, Mizzou students gathered on campus to protest the “systemic racism” of the school.

As most Americans have probably seen at this point, when hordes of people protest, especially when it has to do with racism, the media rushes over to give it coverage. That’s a good thing for any protester – receiving mass media exposure on a local or national level to get a message out. However, it seems Melissa Click doesn’t really get that.

Click, a communications professor at Mizzou, was caught on video physically blocking and forcing photographers and reporters away from one of the on-campus protests. Click declared the outdoor, public area of a public university to be a “No Media Safe-Space.” Since this fiasco, the video has gone viral, and Click has been under massive scrutiny — and rightfully so.

The First Amendment states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

The American people’s concern and outrage over Click’s actions are two-fold. First, how on earth did Click become a professor in higher education in the field of communication, yet has an absolutely backwards understanding of the First Amendment? Second, how many students are going to rally around Click’s abuse of the First Amendment?

Surely Click is alone in her principles of a “No Media Safe-Space.” Sadly, no. As seen in the video, several students aided the cause of blocking the media. Students surrounded the journalists with a mindless mob-mentality and refused to listen to basic reasoning to understand that their actions were an outright violation of the First Amendment.

A student photographer, Tim Tai, was perhaps the most communicative member with the blockade group, declaring the people have a right to protest under the same law that allows the press to cover it freely. After futile efforts to resolve the conflict, the blockade group physically forced Tim Tai away from the scene of the protest. It’s non-sensical.

This is very troubling. These students have somehow come up through the American educational system but have developed an entirely un-American understanding of basic American rights. In this case, it’s the First Amendment. Any student or American citizen in support of Click’s actions is in very dangerous territory.

Denying the First Amendment is the gateway to fascism. As Americans, we must learn to disagree with people.

But these students did not really have a substantive issue with the media. All they really wanted was the power. Their moment came to exploit a crisis and their true colors of fascism bled from the anger in their eyes when they demanded and forced the press leave the scene.

As a student newspaper and as citizens under the U.S. Constitution, we stand unapologetically with the journalists who tried to cover the on-campus protests at Mizzou that day. Physically forcing the media out of a public space to cover a publicly relevant issue is both unlawful and counter intuitive for the well-being of the American republic.

Click and these students demonstrated a shameless violation of the First Amendment. Ironically, they repeatedly cited their freedom of speech under the First Amendment when arguing with the media, but turned around and did everything in their power to disallow the journalists from exercising their rights under the exact same amendment.

Every single American should condemn this blatant violation of the members of the media’s First Amendment rights. If you erode any of the American people’s freedoms, you eventually have to take all of them away. Hopefully that day never comes for the U.S.