As a parent I have realized one of the biggest things I can do for my children is to make sure they know HOW to have their voices heard in a legal way. I want them to know that THEY matter. Their voices matter. To everyone and anyone they meet. I was looking up some guidelines on free speech and demonstrations and I figured I’d make a parent-friendly list to help you teach your children about having their voices heard so they don’t end up injured, arrested, or even killed just from what they assumed was allowing their voice to be heard. I also looked into some various protests and demonstrations that have occurred over the last year, so you can show your kids that people protest multiple things. I am actually not a fan of protesting or demonstrating, but it’s merely because I feel too many people don’t just want someone of a different viewpoint to express their views and they could turn deadly. I’ve been close enough to death enough over the years. However, I strongly support many organizations fighting for human rights.
We are not the ONLY country having protests. Protests are not JUST about BLM and/or Politics. There are protests and demonstrations going on DAILY all over the world. Like, for real…I was walking through Munich, Germany with my parents years ago and I saw rainbow flags all over this open area. I thought “oh cool, this is a gay rights (back in 2006) demonstration, way to go!” Once the guy started speaking English I realized this was a protest against the Afghanistan & Iraq wars. Needless to say we got out of there quickly & safely!
So, in Nigeria the peaceful protestors are getting fired on by security services. Information is very much unknown in the media. Who is killing the protestors? How many have died? Who are the demonstrators? If we thought information dissemination in the U.S. was bad just check out countries like this. But, guess what? Their peaceful protestors are being infiltrated by criminals, similar to ours. They don’t need the media’s help. Here’s another country for you –Belarus. Their women were protesting in the fall of 2020 due to what they felt was a rigged election. These women were actually peacefully protesting, not storming a building. (Random Fact – Did you know that women across the globe only enjoy 75% of the rights that men have? Yeah…crazy, right?) Other countries, like Kenya, are meeting those who go against Coronavirus restrictions with deadly force. Thailand – Their protests were about the government and current state of their parliament. Their citizens get punished for criticizing their king and senior royals. Could you imagine getting punished for criticizing our Presidents (past, present, and future)?!? People would lose their ever-loving minds!
Here’s another one – Mexico. The women were protesting due to gender-based violence and justice for missing people throughout the country. Women have participated in nationwide strikes against femicide which has increased by 137% just in the last five years. Femicide is literally these women or girls dying because….they’re women. That’s right. Killed because you were born with a vagina. Imagine that. Iran – Women came forward with their stories of sexual harassment & assault. FYI – you know those hijabs and burqas? Their bodies are hidden and they STILL get harassed. So, make sure your kids know it doesn’t matter what they wear. Pigs will be pigs and target them. Aghanistan – women are asking the Taliban…yes, Taliban, to make sure their progress stayed current. However, the government’s team has women on it, which the Taliban’s doesn’t, for progress in their rights. Women are needed as research has shown they are much more able to find peaceful solutions.
This is for those of you raising our future female leaders…or future mothers…or future wives…or women period. Researchers have been studying how women, yes WOMEN, are vital to the peace negotiation process. Studies are starting to show that including women reduces failure of any negotiations by 64%. The sad part is, women aren’t used to their full potential when signing peace agreements or negotiating. Women’s groups don’t even get very much aid from major donor countries either. Women are useful. Women are everywhere. Women have been used as spies for decades because they can play multiple roles without messing up. Tell your daughters their worth. Make sure they know the power they hold!
Free Speech IS:
· Police & Government officials are actually allowed to dictate “time, place, and manner” restrictions. Many cities/states require you to get a permit to host a demonstration and/or protest that blocks traffic, uses microphones and amplifying devices, and/or the use of certain plazas or parks. There is a lot of discretion given to the police and/or city officials to depict a specific route or volume to be used. BUT, permits are allowed EVEN IF the subject is controversial or unpopular. So, don’t feel that trying to obtain a permit for your unpopular cause will automatically be denied.
NOT Allowed on Private Property without Permission.
· This means that you can be ordered off of the property and/or charged with trespassing. Many public forums ACROSS from these private places can be used for your free speech activities, but it’s still pending permission.
· Just, don’t dance your way into a Target to steal a TV. That is NOT covered…
Disagree with a police officer? Ask for his Supervisor.
· Keep going up the chain until someone listens. It’s like that at Walmart too. Also, if you DO get arrested & you know for a fact you were exercising your First Amendment right just go along with it. The court WILL NOT convict you if they agree your First Amendment rights were violated. FYI – this doesn’t work if you stole that TV.
Who shows up for large gatherings to keep the peace? The National Guard.
The National Guard has grown to be a portion of the U.S. military that not only handles domestic incidents but they can also handle conflicts overseas. They have to follow both state and federal laws. The Guard has been stretched thin in 2020 responding to everything from hurricanes to coronavirus testing sites and then of course to the many anti-racism protests. They are currently doing their part in DC for the inauguration and for the rioting this week. Protests in DC need the Pentagon or President to approve of the National Guard showing up…and sometimes that can take some time (like an act of Congress?!?! Haha no…but the Defense Secretary for sure…).
A pretty cool historical fact about the Guard you can teach your kids is that it was formed from the militias that were necessary to establish American colonies. They didn’t become the organized force we see now until the 20th century.
I am far from a political or historical scholar. However, I do believe we all have a voice and we all need to be heard…as long as it doesn’t hurt those around us. It’s our job to empower our children to see each other as human-beings and help humanity. If protests or demonstrations are needed to be heard then by all means do so…just keep it peaceful. Let’s help our children succeed in making it to where we all can be heard.
Some good resources:
https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/how-police-compare-different-democracies (This is an interesting read since many demonstrations are about the police)