Before We Had the Right to Vote, We Had the Right to Protest | Wesley Lowery
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Before We Had the Right to Vote, We Had the Right to Protest | Wesley Lowery

November 24, 2019


You know I think that what’s interesting
is that at times of tumult in the United States of America, the 50s and 60s, now. You see candidacies often to the center, right. But sometimes of either part who come out
on this kind of law and order platform, this idea that we need to regain control of what’s
happening or things will become chaos, right. And so the time we’re in, think of the last
few years we have seen riots in various cities. We’ve seen angry protests, people in the
streets, people upset. That scares a lot of people. People who aren’t comfortable with that. People whose lives were plenty happy and who
are comfortable. They don’t like the idea that the freeway
is shut down. They don’t like the idea that people are
angry or yelling at the police officers. And what they desire is someone who’s going
to come and tell them I’m going to handle this. I’m going to get things back to the way
they were. Now there’s a false promise there because
the way they were, the way things were previously was not any better. We just perhaps weren’t paying attention
to it. There’s always unrest. There are always people who are in pain. There are always protests happening. But we’ve been in a moment where we’ve
had an acute awareness of that pain that is different than the moments previously. And so it’s not surprising, you know, Donald
Trump becomes one of the first candidates since Nixon to so successfully wield this
law and order type of platform. And so while that comforts some people, people
on the other end of the spectrum are horrified by that, right. What might that mean? If you are the young black man or woman who’s
been in the street protesting what might that mean for you if you’re one of these activists,
if you are, you know, what does he – he spoke about potential nationwide stop and
frisk which horrifies a lot of people. He’s talked about the crackdowns on immigrants
and that horrifies a lot of people. And so there’s this understanding that we
have this spectrum of security and liberty and that will people’s liberty be taken
in order to provide a greater level of security. Because very often in those moments of fear
when we are scared of what is going to happen and what is happening in our world those end
up being the moments very often where we make historically some of the worst decisions we’ve
made as it relates to respecting the liberty of some of our fellow Americans. Protesting of itself is a foundational block
of our democracy. That this is in fact before we had the right
to vote we had the right to protest, right. That’s the first amendment. It is the first thing that the founders decided
to enshrine in our constitution was this idea to petition your government. And not to petition your government by giving
a bunch of money or by casting a ballot but rather by raising your voice you have the
ability to petition your government. I think that, you know protests serve various
purposes, right. Protests, people often, we often see protests
and we often, especially those in the media look at them dismissively. What do they want? What are they going to get out of this? What’s the point? What are they really asking for? Why didn’t they go vote instead? And I think that that largely misses the point
of protest and why people come into the streets. People protest when they feel as if the other
avenues of democracy have not served them. When you are a young college student in Portland
who voted for Hillary Clinton in a blue state and that doesn’t really matter or have any
bearing on who wins or who does not win the election, right. I think it’s unsurprising that so many of
the demonstration’s we’re seeing are in deep liberal cities within blue states. People whose votes frankly didn’t really
matter in terms of the outcome. Someone who lives in New York. Someone who lives in LA or Oakland, right. Chicago. The protest is a means of petitioning your
government. Protest is a means of community, of taking
an individual voice that by itself might be weak and compounding it with other voices
that now collectively become strong. Would the mayor of any of these cities take
the call of the individual? Maybe they would but maybe they would not. Would the governor? Would the president address one person standing
on the street saying no, this is unacceptable. Probably not. Would he address 50? Would he address 100 or 100,000? Well perhaps they would, right. It’s a means of amplifying a message and
it’s also a means of physical resistance of saying this thing that is in front of me
whether this is a police shooting, whether this is an incoming presidential administration. There’s something that I object to and that
I will not stand down for. And you will have to deal with me in the political
pressure created by my presence. And so I think that protest is powerful because
of the community it creates and then of that community can be birthed all types of activism
and organization that then leads to long term change. I got to Cleveland in December 2014 which
was not long after the decision to not charge Darrin Wilson in Ferguson had been announced
and the decision not to charge the officer in the death of Eric Gardner had been announced. And as protests were re-breaking out in all
these cities there had also been another shooting. That if 12-year-old Tamir Rice in Cleveland. And so as protests were breaking out in New
York and in St. Louis, Cleveland also had seen this surge of activism and Cleveland
initially wasn’t very happy with this. The police handled the protests pretty well. They kind of guided the, they let them march,
they let them shut down freeways. But the mayor began receiving all these complaints
about it. Why was the freeway shut down? Why did you let them do this? He called a press conference to discuss the
ongoing investigation into the shootings and discuss the protests. And he said, you know, protesting, the shutdown
of the freeway, is the cost, it’s the inconvenience of freedom. That essentially he went to bat for the first
amendment rights of these demonstrators. That’s something that we’ve now seen many
more police departments do is follow that model. But Mayor Jackson, Frank Jackson in Cleveland
was one of the first to really do this and I thought it sent quite a message about the
role of protest and democracy.

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  1. This video was uploaded 1 hour ago but taken down minutes after. It included a rant on "Fake News" at the beginning that is not present here. Weird…

  2. social equality and equity is the sign of a healthy democracy. protesting is the understanding the the former does not exist and is demanding what is enshrined in the formation of the complex society we call nations.

  3. Not a bad video. Protesting (not rioting) is a right which should be allowed and not squashed. The problem is that when the use of protesting becomes routine, it loses its impact. That's why using protests as a end, rather than a means to an end, is a bad idea. For the presidential election result protests, if the electoral college is so 'unfair', why are protests only occuring after your candidate lost? Crying about the rules after you lost the game is the sign of a poor loser. In regards to Black Lives Matter, what was the end goal of that? Putting a stop to black violence? How do you achieve that? Gay Rights protests were very well done, because they had a set goal, and they acheieved that.

  4. The problem is that nothing good comes from riots. Protests are a collective call for something to change. Riots, especially as we've seen after the election, are those wanting to silence those who oppose them.

  5. In summary:
    "This is what democracy looks like (regarding protests/activism)"

    Yes. Which is why the Founding Fathers made sure we live in a Constitutional Republic with… and here's the key… limited democracy.

  6. Yeah! I have the liberty to block the highway and stop people from going where they want! I totally have the right to infringe on other people's rights!

  7. The problem with modern protests is that they’re not focused on the right people. The protests of the poor and downtrodden are affecting only other poor and downtrodden. You talk about “why people come into the streets” and that’s exactly the problem. The street is the wrong battleground. If your vote in New York or LA didn’t matter, because everyone there is already liberal, then why would your protest in New York or LA matter, as the regional liberal political segregation of these protests means that you’re only preaching to the choir, while inconveniencing the choir. People aren’t protesting intelligently. Blocking freeways, rioting, and burning small businesses primarily affects other poor people, and turns them against you, which benefits the elites who have been known to orchestrate strife amongst the impoverished. Instead, institute disciplined, widespread, targeted boycotts, and then shit will get done. Your current enemy values money above all else (as money is power). They won't listen until you damage their bottom line. The wealthy have what they have because the poor give it to them. So, stop giving it to them.

  8. just who lives in fear anymore? everyone has the same rights and violence is badly looked upon everywhere. If anything conservatives in libertarian colleges have it hard

  9. protesting=/= rioting that's what most people don't want, burning down buildings and attacking police officers isn't anyones right. this idea that law and order is a bad thing is ridiculous protesting is fine and i don't think anyone is not OK with protesting

  10. I do love how the right is always going "THE FOUNDERS DID (X)" But then when you protest or block a road they call you a terrorist or some shit. the founders literally killed people because of political dissent. we so often forget how thin the veneer of civility is and how much chaos and violence is just below it.

  11. No matter of your side, politics is best understood that when we do it, it's fine but when my opponents do it, then it is not fine.

  12. yes its ok to block freeways, make sure those people cant go to work so they can take care of their families. that'll help people.

  13. All these dislikes is coming from the people who criticize the people who say the 2nd amendment needs to be amended, while they criticize the 1st amendment. THE FIRST AMENDMENT IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN THE SECOND

  14. You have the right to protest against the government. You do NOT have the right to otherwise break the law, you do NOT have the right to block traffic, you do NOT have the right to shut down private businesses (e.g. shopping malls), you do NOT have the right to generally inconvenience, harass, harm, or violate the rights of PRIVATE CITIZENS (the government's another story, you do have the right to harass, inconvenience, and protest them to a great degree, and that's fine).

    Protestors attempting to block roads, harm private business, or impede private citizens from going about their business should absolutely be shut down by the police. They should be arrested and charged for the crimes they did indeed just commit.

  15. Protests are fine when they are driven by facts, but more and more they are driven by feelings that are based on someone else's narrative that is intentionally false. Yes protest as you may but you also have the right to dismiss off of hand those who have no basis in reality.

  16. I think for practical purposes one must differentiate between constructive protest and protests just for its own sake. Because tearing down a city for the death of a criminal improves the lives of no one. And probably has reverse effect if you look at the crime rate in Baltimore

  17. I don't think ANYONE is saying people don't have a right to protest – protesting is a right!
    But what you don't have in a civil discourse, is to call for death of Police, death to "white people", or Rioting & Looting.
    That's NOT peaceful protesting & if you honestly believe that civil disobedience is a "right", then you're sadly mistaken…

  18. I didn't vote for Trump, but small quibble: Trump promised to crack down on immigrants here illegally, not immigrants in general.

    Also, the right to petition your government isn't the same as the "right to protest". Riots may be a form of protest and protest may be a means to petition your government, but riots are never a legitimate means or form of petitioning your government. Nor is it a protected right.

  19. Protest, Yes. Riot, No. Protest, Yes. Block roads and annoy the people you need to win, No. Protest, Yes. Call for the death or attacking people who disagree with you, No. We have never had as much freedom or so little crime as now, so please stop pretending things are getting worse rather than better as time progresses. Is it perfect? No, but it is getting better.

  20. I didn't vote for Romney or McCain, but I have to say the Republicans handled defeat like adults. The childish meltdown of the Democrats is just embarrassing.

  21. If only Americans protested things that actually matter. Maybe Syria wouldn't be a cesspool of violence and death, brought to you by American foreign policy and American arms dealing. Maybe Iraq wouldnt be a shitstain of violence,-oppression and death. Maybe people would be fighting to help the people of Yemen, instead of HELPING the bad actors in Saudi Arabia commit war crimes.

    You idiots are rioting over things that dont matter, while your government has destroyed and dismantled freedom, privacy, and the lives of hundreds of thousands of millions of people around this world this past 2 decades.

    Also, when BLM protesters shut down a highway and interfere with the day-to-day lives of regular commuters trying to get to work on time and not fired, they encroach on others freedoms, and daily lives. Thats no longer the right to freedom of speech. Especially when it ends up being a safety concern.

    BLM has set America back 50 years in race relations. Shit has regressed, not progressed. And the statistics of police violence prove how unimportant cellphone video is of one moron trying to pull a gun out while police are arresting him, compared to the ocean of black on black violence that kills black men on a daily, or shall I say HOURLY basis in American cities. Dont like what Im saying??? Want to argue with me in those last few points? ….

    I dont think you'd last a second under the mountain of truth there is to my last few statements and the REAL stats that back them up. Sorry, but BLM is an idiotic hate movement, that splits Americans, while your government continues on with foreign policies that are war crimes.

    G'day

  22. Those people who want someone to just handle things for them are not good members of a democratic society.

    Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country. -JFK

    Distinguishing from a vote and a protest is inadvertently misleading here. Protest is itself a vote. It is a voiced vote. A necessary means to make something that is not on the ballot heard is an example of a good reason to vote in a different way. Rather than perpetuate or normalize the stigma that has developed over the years about protest steps should be taken to normalize respect for that very healthy democratic power, the power to have demonstrations. Any and all attempts to stigmatize, shun, or discredit the concept of protestations is akin to the works those of a fascist.

  23. Wesley Lowery: What you're missing is that fear and authority (the use of power) is used by both parties and most political groups across the spectrum. Now we see fear on the progressive left ginning up fear in order, IMO, to raise money for their non-profits and also to setup political base for the midterms. Protest is good, I agree, but always ask how is power being used. Asking who benefits isn't enough. Power wielded through the government can be oppressive to some group and I think that the election of Trump proves that and it's what's missed by the "left". People didn't elect Trump because they are racist, it's because they were disenfranchised. They had lost a voice the election this year was a protest in democracy, whether you like the results or not. I'm still a little shocked that Trump got elected, not because Hillary should have won, but that because we have a businessman cum reality show host as president. Up to now it's the ultimate FU vote. SO, be careful what you ask for…And remember that what you ask for at the behest of the government can be done for things you don't want or like. It's always been power versus liberty and even the idea of liberty is a relatively new thing as we've been on a manorial track for quite some time. Change the parties and the process is still the same, but instead of Father Knows Best, we get Breaking Bad for programming. It's time we start limiting the power of government and stop depending on it to fix all our problems, which in turn then becomes the source of all of our problems…And also realize that a lot of the sturm and drang are useful idiots manipulated by those that run the board and look for walking money. George Carlin was right. Being an american means we have a front row seat at the freak show.

  24. Sad part about this is that the scientific community probably has the most credibility yet they have the smallest voice when it comes to politics

  25. Wesley Lowery is the cub reporter that help start the current "racial wars" in America. He was the idiot who covered Ferguson. Complaining about police brutality, because he was being kicked out of MacDonald's for being a non paying patron and stealing electricity.

    YET…. at the SAME TIME, outside of the SAME MacDonald's, the paid rebel rousers who had been bussed in from Chicago were being arrested. Lowery went on to write that all of the disturbance was due to police – resident issues. COMPLETELY ignoring outsiders!

    BEFORE WAPO's Pulitzer had been formally announced for their coverage on Ferguson, Lowery went around bragging that he got a Pulitzer, EVEN THOUGH HE NEVER HAD A BI-LINE!! He got his job at Washington Post BECAUSE of his wealthy background connections.

    He needs an award! Being the man who helped restart racial wars in the U.S.

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