Put peaceful back in protest

Over the past few weeks, we have seen an unprecedented influx of protests from left wing activist groups to suppress other Americans. The demonstrations have gotten gradually worse and more volatile. It started with a few people infiltrating political rallies of political candidates, both Republican and Democrat.

In August of 2014, two members of the Black Lives Matter movement hijacked a Bernie Sanders rally in downtown Seattle, subjecting Sanders to the role of a mere bystander as the representatives of the Black Lives Matter movement propagated their agenda.

In the past two weeks, protesters have forcibly shut down more political rallies and/or instigated violence as well as severe security concerns for various candidates. At a Donald Trump rally in Ohio, Secret Service members had to rush onto stage. A 32-year old man jumped on stage during Trump’s speech and was stopped before reaching the presidential candidate. This caused a brief moment of panic for both Trump and his supporters.

Perhaps most notably, Trump had to cancel a rally in Chicago after protesters inside and outside of the venue caused a big enough security concern for local police and event security to cut the rally before it even began. Another incident that was not highly reported in the news was a Ted Cruz sign-waving event was canceled in Miami, for security concerns as well.

In the most recent incident, protesters used force, once again, to suppress fellow Americans. This time, activists shut down a major street, stopping cars in the middle of the road, prohibiting people from making way to a political rally. Three people involved in the traffic stoppage were arrested by Arizona police that day.

It has been a national spectacle put on by these protesters who, at this point, look much more like rioters than peaceful protesters. And it does not seem to be getting any better.

What do we make of these incidents? Is it the beautiful mess of the First Amendment at work, or is it something else? Frankly, it’s a fine line.

These activists commonly cite hatred, intolerance and bigotry as their reasons for engaging the way they have. The man who rushed the stage at the Trump rally in Ohio called Trump a coward and a bully.

But let’s look at the indictment being made, specifically by these activists. Consider what they’re saying.

They cry out against violence, but have used violence to stop political rallies. Reports of arrests, altercations with police officers as well as fellow citizens have occurred at virtually every one of these incidents or protests. They cry out against hatred and intolerance, but they themselves have used both as ammunition for their demonstrations, riots and protests. Rushing the stage of any political candidate or elected official is unacceptable, un-American and a very serious matter.

You see, these activists don’t care so much about hate or violence, because those are evidently their favorite weapons in their repository. If they can suppress other Americans with violence and hatred, they don’t mind, so long as they have the power. Power is what they care about, not hatred or violence.

Consider who these people represent because these protests and demonstrations have not been organized by the common people. In fact, the Trump rally protests in Chicago are reported to have been organized by Move On in conjunction with the Black Lives Matter movement and a handful of others.

Left-wing organizations are exploiting young Americans and minorities as pawns in the political gambit. They don’t care about their constituents so much as they care about their power and political footing. And that is a tactic that has been long used by left wing organizations, even against their own party.

This can’t be the way we discourse as Americans. Yes, protesting is a protected right in the U.S. Constitution; however, it must remain peaceful for it to be peaceful. And many of these protesters have shown they are anything but peaceful.

It is a serious concern when one American is obstructing the right of another American to participate in the political process by way of political rallies. It is a serious concern when an American citizen rushes the stage of any political candidate.

Should these incidents of protesting and rioting continue, we may be in for a long, hot summer on the cusp of the general election. We may be witnessing the deterioration of our political discourse and the free exchange of thoughts and beliefs.

Jeffrey Swindoll is a senior journalism major from Miami, Fla., and the Lariat Sports Editor.