Protesting proposal restricts right

The Minneapolis City Council has proposed to require a permit for protests.

The First Amendment says: “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.”

The Minneapolis City Council might not be Congress, but its potential resolution to require protesters to file for a permit and pay a $25 fee for more than 25 protesters certainly restricts the right of the people to peaceably assemble.

Protests occur as a public display of disapproval. From protesting a war to striking for better wages, people have the right to peaceably, publicly show their disapproval – and usually it’s toward an authoritative institution like the government.

It’s completely illogical for a group protesting the government to request the government’s permission to first do so, as well as pay a fee if more than 25 people are involved in the protest.

Supporters of the new guidelines say the city has an obligation to protect citizens, demonstrators, property and traffic flow. They assume then that all protests turn into mobs and rioting masses. But if people feel so passionately about something, will a $25 permit actually stop them?

The fact alone that the council might consider this proposal to protect these groups and the sanctity of traffic shows that the city expects the proposal to dissuade or prevent protests. The city would then be impeding people’s right to peaceably assemble.

The First Amendment’s rights to freedom of speech, petition and assembly uphold this country’s value for democracy and freedom. Our government, theoretically, depends on these elements to function. We rely on the freedom of speech and press to be able to make informed decisions.

Voting and sending letters aren’t the only way to send messages to the government and other institutions.

Protests are another way to send a message. And while they sometimes cause traffic congestion or worse, riots, the city should not assume that this is the norm and restrict and control our constitutional right to peaceably assemble.