While drinking my morning coffee today, I decided to browse the morning headlines. Not surprisingly, one of the first articles to pop up on my phone was about Occupy Wall Street; New York police, dressed in riot gear, forced citizens to remove tents and other camping gear from a public park citing public “health and safety concerns” (more on the story from CNN). This is not the first time authorities have ordered citizens to vacate the public premises where they have been protesting. In cities across the nation, literally from coast to coast, police and protesters are pitted in a fight against one another. My question is: Why?
Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement hold that they are utilizing their First Amendment right – the right to free speech. Police and other authorities claim they are acting in the best interest of the public to maintain safety and order. In the end, it seems to me that no one is listening. Why are we fighting one another? Aren’t we supposed to all be in this together? Isn’t this all of our country? Lest we forget, we are only the United States of America because we declared our independence from England. Americans fought in a revolution in order to give us the freedoms established in the Constitution. The Founding Fathers created the First Amendment to ensure that citizens are forever able to revolt against its government should the institution become too out of control. The American people are standing up, making their voices heard and asking for change in a way not yet realized. They are using their First Amendment right not just to speak, but to be heard. While authorities are focused on camping gear, technicalities and attacking Americans I’m left wondering why no one is listening.
Dear Police Officers, Mayors, Congress and Mr. President: the American people are demanding to be heard. You can take their tents and sleeping bags, but they will not back down. You can arrest and attempt to disband protesters, but they will not stop protesting. Instead of continuing to try and control the masses, maybe it’s time to listen to them.