"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."I obviously added the emphasis in the above quote, but just to draw your attention to the relevant words. You'll notice your right to assemble with other people to express your grievances is constitutionally protected as long as it's peaceful? This is because when a bunch of people get together and they turn violent it's called a riot. Rioting is a felony under federal law if you cross state lines to do it. And that includes organizing to do so electronically. The definition of rioting is basically 2 or more people using unlawful violence or threatening to do so. This is a generalization, but that's basically it. So it's a pretty broad crime. Planning on committing violence or threatening violence? Traveling across state lines to meet a friend or 2 or a thousand? That's probably a felony and not a constitutionally-protected activity.
State laws are different from place to place, but I imagine most jurisdictions have some criminal prohibition against rioting, or at least destroying property and assaulting people. And arson is a pretty universal no-no.So, since we can see an infinite number of videos on social media of thousands upon thousands of people smashing, looting and burning stores, police stations and cars, assaulting people, why aren't jails overflowing with people charged with rioting?
To begin with, most of the places these things are happening are run by Democrat politicians sympathetic to the rioters. The people in the crowds are their voters. Or, at least, they don't support the Republicans. So they're not exactly going to order their police departments to arrest crowds of their voters. And, let's face it, Republicans are surrendering on every issue at every level, too. So, it's not like it would be any different if a Republican were in charge of any of these cities.
When rioters have been arrested, the liberal prosecutors in these cities have mostly released them without charges, or they've just released them without having to post bond. So even the worst of the worst who get arrested end up with basically nothing happening to them. It's a free-for-all. There's literally no reason to not commit violent crimes because 1.) They stand virtually 0% chance of being arrested; 2.) If they are arrested, there's a high probability they won't be prosecuted, much less convicted or jailed, and; 3.) Police are much more likely to arrest and prosecute the victims of mob violence for defending themselves. So, if you want to block a highway, you can be pretty sure the motorists will do as you order them to do or the police will arrest them for driving through your blockade because they could've hurt someone. Or, if you attack someone's business or go onto their private property, you can cry to the police and show them your cell phone video of them resisting your "peaceful protest" and the police will arrest them and charge them to the full extent of the law.
This is the bizarro world we're living in.
As far as federal authorities, it's a little sticky. First, law enforcement is almost exclusively a local matter. Federal law enforcement don't have the resources to round up significant numbers of people. If they would, they need substantial support from local authorities to process people who commit federal crimes. The federal government doesn't operate jails everywhere, so they need help from the locals. And we've watched for the past several years how the localities where these riots are happening cooperate with federal agencies. They don't. So if the locals aren't going to arrest or prosecute the rioters, why on earth would they help the feds do it?
All this being said, I was thinking about some things authorities could do to make protests a little more manageable.
1. No masks. I know, this goes against everything liberals are ordering. But local authorities aren't enforcing any of these rules on protesters, anyway. A few years ago, I saw police at Auburn University enforcing a "No mask, no hoodie" rule. This was during the time conservative speakers were being run off campus by these same crowds of violent, masked leftists who showed up to burn things and scream at people for saying things they disagree with. It worked remarkably well! I believe the Auburn talk went off smoothly because the protesters, unmasked and un-hoodied by police, mostly went home. They were cowards. They were willing to be violent idiots, but only if they could do so anonymously. I always wondered why other venues didn't enforce such a rule. They should use that for protests everywhere. You can protest, but no mask and no hoodie.
2. No backpacks. This should be a no-brainer. With all the clubs, bike locks, tire irons and other blunt-force weapons antifa likes to attack people with, to say nothing of their habit of throwing Molotov cocktails, spray painting over security cameras (and now shooting motorists), there's no reason anyone should be allowed to carry a backpack to a protest. The Tsarnaev brothers carried a pressure cooker bomb to the Boston Marathon in a backpack, and that resulted in a nationwide ban on backpacks and ladies' purses at events. If you want to attend most sporting events now, your wife has to put her tiny items in a clear bag that is subject to inspection. And that's just to attend a concert or football game...something where there's not scheduled to be any burning and looting. The backpack ban should include claims of medical supplies from supposed antifa "medics". The fact that protest organizers would expect there to be enough injuries at their event to need a bunch of "medics" is evidence they expect violence. If they're planning a peaceful event, they can rely on 9-1-1 and real paramedics in the off chance someone doesn't feel well. Bottom line: If you can't carry it in your hand or in a pocket, it doesn't come to the protest, just like it doesn't go in the stadium.
3. No bicycles, no skateboards. We've all seen the weaponized use of bicycles at these riots. It always seems like an army of random people with bicycles just so happen to be walking their bikes in the middle of a protest. if you watch enough videos, you'll notice a pattern to how these "innocent bystanders" interact with their bicycles to interfere with police. The cops have caught on to this, though, and actually police departments are using their own bicycles to make movable walls and otherwise disrupt rioters' movements. Anyone legitimately there for a peaceful protest doesn't need to be walking their bike around in the crowd. And, if you've watched even a dozen videos of these riots, you've no doubt seen skateboards being used as weapons to smash cars or assault people. Just like bicycles, there's no legitimate need for a skateboard at a peaceful protest and it's remarkable how many rioters you see walking with a skateboard in their hand.
If police were serious about diminishing the potential for violence at these antifa protests, these are three simple rules that would go a long way toward keeping things peaceful. Don't allow people to hide their identity, no backpacks and no bicycles or skateboards in the protest area.
And what's that I hear you saying? What about guns? Well, there are already thousands of laws on the books regarding the purchase, possession, ownership, carry, display, concealment and use of firearms. Some states and localities are more restrictive, some are more relaxed. And this is concerning a specific constitutional right. So, firearms at a protest will already be covered by layers of federal laws, state laws and local ordinances. I have nothing to add.
But, from looking at videos of riots, local officials could use some tips on things that could help them assist their local protesters to stay within the protection of the First Amendment.
Just doing my part.