Does First Amendment give Ferguson hoodlums right to riot?
WASHINGTON, November 26, 2014 — America and the upstanding residents of Ferguson, Mo., have had enough of the rioting, looting and mayhem in the name of Michael Brown. The line of peaceful assembly that Rev. King and other civil rights leaders stood and died for has been abandoned. Instead, local and state officials in Missouri are bending over backward wondering, does the First Amendment give Ferguson hoodlums rioting rights?
It was easy to predict that Ferguson would explode into violence if Officer Darren Wilson weren’t indicted. The warnings from elected officials were plentiful, including from Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, who on Monday, Nov. 17 declared a state of emergency and ordered the state’s National Guard to support police in case of violence after the grand jury rendered it decision.
All warnings aside, this was a notice to the good citizens of Ferguson: Make certain that you have your guard up. The governor was anticipating that there were going to be some super angry community thugs, lawbreakers, and race-hating trouble makers getting ready to light up their streets once darkness and a decision fell upon them.
Preparing for night violence instead of banning night protests is common sense. Accommodating nighttime violence is nonsense. Have the governor, the public officials of Ferguson and the nation lost their minds and their common sense? How does any definition of freedom of speech and First Amendment rights fit logically into rioting or even marching at night? How can that be anything more than an open invitation to violence? Let’s be serious for a moment.
Did Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. ever march for freedom and civil rights at night? Do you know who did set fires and commit violent acts at night? The Ku Klux Klan. The night stalkers of racial hatred used the cover of night as their happy hunting grounds. They burned churches, homes and black businesses with open impunity.
So we ask, what does this have to do with freedom of speech?
It appears that the only legitimate purpose that can be derived from protesting at night is to cause trouble at night. With darkness, the perpetrators of evil intended deeds can toss rocks, burn cars, and businesses which are exactly what occurred on Monday night in Ferguson. These thugs of the night are no different and no less than the Ku Klux Klan of the late 19th and 20th Century.
Klan acts of racial intimidation, murder and destruction ravaged black communities all across the south and sometimes in other parts of the country. The klan was opposed by groups like the NAACP. The courts were used successfully to combat this vile nighttime mayhem.
Where is the NAACP today? Where are the black leaders? Today’s black leaders look the other way and refuse to demand that peaceful protests be held in the light of day.
The inaction of leaders in urban communities is totally repugnant to the memory and to the principles of American freedom fighters like Rev. King. The mainstream media were successful at bringing the attention of the nation and the world to the suffering, inequities and injustices of racial discrimination. The same media have ignored the fact that these looters and so-called “Justice for Michael Brown” marchers need the cover of night to show their concern about police brutality and other offenses. Then the violence begins.
The line in the sand of peaceful protest has been crossed and this dirty little secret which is not even being whispered by public leaders including the president is not so secret. The rioters are domestic terrorists! Their only purpose is to incite violence and the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 1969 Brandenburg v Ohio case, that “the First Amendment allows punishment only of subversive advocacy calculated to produce ‘imminent lawless action’ and which is likely to produce such action.”
What better set of facts does a court need than the utterances of the Black Panthers, and other subversive organized protest efforts, including Al Sharpton, to show that they are involved in subversive advocacy calculated to produce “imminent lawless action”?
There is a clear and present danger that lawful residents of Ferguson and the rest of the country have to come to terms with: If you want peaceful protest and peaceful assembly, then make certain it is held between the hours of daylight and dusk. Standing up for freedom is best accomplished in the light of day. Leave the night to law enforcement to round up and lock up the night-crawling looters; after they’re caught, booked and jailed, they can exercise their freedom of speech through a narrow jail cell.