Missouri Should Try Listening to Protesters Instead of Attacking Them
“I think everyone deserves the same rights as I do. I just want peace and justice,” says Maleeha Ahmad, one of the protesters who was pepper-sprayed by police officers in St. Louis last week.
Ms. Ahmad has joined a lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Missouri against the city of St. Louis, arguing that the militarized and overtly aggressive police response to people protesting Jason Stockley’s acquittal violated the protesters’ First Amendment, Fourth Amendment, and due process rights.
This article is arguing against law enforcement and their use of violence against protesters. The citizens in St. Louis decided to protest for the justice of Anthony Lamar Smith, a 24-year-old Black man who was murdered by a former St. Louis police officer. The protest focus was on justice and for an end to the cycle of police brutality that is enabled by court decisions amounting to little more than a slap on the wrist. On the first day of the protests, officers descended on demonstrators wearing state-funded riot gear, full-body riot shields, and helmets. They fired tear gas and used pepper spray on dozens of people. They confiscated and destroyed videos of police activity recorded by observers. The videos that did go public showed people being corralled into small areas, leaving them trapped in the face of an onslaught of chemical agents. Police arrested more than 100 people on the first night of demonstrations, 80 on the second, and even more in the subsequent days. The St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department has tried to defend its actions by pointing to singular acts of violence committed by a few people. But is this still right for the actions that they took?
People have the right to express how they feel in protests as long as it is peaceful. This is a right put in the U.S. Constitution. For law enforcement to challenge this right and violate it makes people question the power of government. The right to join with citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy and at the core of the First Amendment. Law enforcement officials sometimes violate this right through means intended to thwart free public expression. Even without active obstruction of the right to protest, limitations on that right or fear of police intimidation can chill expressive activity and result in self-censorship.
Do you think that in times of war and emergency the government should be able to place greater limitations on freedom of expression than at other times? Why or Why not?
This is a controversial question considering how government is abusing rights as it is. Giving the government even more power than they already have will lessen the rights of the citizen which will most definitely violate the constitution. Not only that but as citizens we shouldn’t feel like we are in prison in an environment that we were granted freedom to. How do you expect citizens to not act out giving government more power? This will cause more problems then there is, so no limitations should be placed.