During the recent protests in Iowa’s major cities, many gathered to peacefully and respectfully give their opinions and share concerns. Then there were those who decided it was a good time to light fires, smash other people’s property, and threaten people with physical harm.
At the time, very few arrests were made, in part to keep things calm at the scene and in part because those committing the crimes didn’t wear name tags. But through a review of video showing various criminal acts, Des Moines police started making arrests.
One of those who was cited for criminal mischief involving damage to a police car was asked to appear and receive a citation, rather than police hauling him out of his home in handcuffs. The defendant turned it into an event, using social media to call on supporters to rally around the police station when he was to appear, to protest what he felt was an attempt to silence him. He also apparently felt he had a right to cause damage to a police car because…well, I don’t really know why, just as I don’t understand people burning and vandalizing things as if they had a Constitutional right to do so.
They don’t; I checked. And no where in the First Amendment does it say that protesters can do what they want or go where they want without possible penalty. It does say that the government cannot prohibit “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” Key word here is “peaceably”. It does not mean riot. It does not mean you can commit a crime and have it be excused because you’re doing it in George Floyd’s name.
Other arrests have been made, once video has been reviewed…and I trust more will follow. That’s not systemic racism, that’s not an injustice…it’s policing to punish those who violate laws and to protect society from law breakers…and in proportional fashion to the crime committed. Peaceably assemble, sure…a free pass to commit crimes, not at all.