With the inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump approaching quickly, some protesters and activist groups have already given us a taste of their intentions. While protests are to be expected during the inauguration of any president-elect, a line must be drawn between protesting and terrorism. There are some, I believe, who are in need of a second look at the U.S. Constitution in order to better understand what we as citizens are guaranteed the rights to actually do.
It should be noted that not all of the protesters have gathered such negative attention. The Women’s March On Washington, for example, will be a peaceful demonstration on the Saturday following the inauguration. The organization’s mission is to bring attention to the “insulted, demonized, and threatened” minorities of our country who feel endangered due to the rhetoric of president-elect Trump. The event will be open to anyone who wishes to protest, and has spread globally, allowing those who cannot make it to Washington D.C. to participate locally as well.
DCMJ, a D.C. based pro-marijuana group, is also planning a protest. It is the groups intention to hand out 4,200 marijuana “joints” prior to the beginning of the inaugural address. They would then like to have the crowd begin smoking simultaneously, at exactly four minutes and twenty seconds into president-elect Trump’s speech. The group has stated that the protest is intended to make D.C.’s stance clear on marijuana legalization right before the eyes of the new administration. While this act is not violent in nature, it is important to remember that marijuana is still illegal federally – and I would strongly advise against smoking on federal grounds.
There are some groups, however, such as “#DisruptJ20” and the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition, that have chosen to take a very different approach to their protesting techniques. “#DisruptJ20” is a movement consisting of various united activist groups all dedicated to the same cause – “to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump and planning widespread direct actions to make that happen.” Immediately, there are some words here that warrant concern. First of all, there is a vast difference between protesting an event and aiming to shut it down completely. Second, “direct action” is vague terminology with a somewhat threatening implication. Finally, widespread. This type of language used together is frighteningly similar to that of terror organizations.
On top of all of this, it has recently been discovered that the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition was planning to attack one of the inaugural balls which was to take place the night before the inauguration. Along with tampering with the sprinkler system, the group had planned to release butyric acid throughout the building the ball is to be held in. The acid was to be used as a “stink bomb” which would have ultimately forced everyone in the building to evacuate. While the attack would not have been deadly so to speak, direct attacks at the inauguration such as these differ from simple protests. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution 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.”
There is nothing peaceful about direct attacks on civilians, with the intention to interfere with democracy.
PC: Time Magazine