Mike Matejka: It was an insurrection and a riot

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What is a peaceful protest?

I have participated in many protests and picket lines, whether locally or in Springfield, Chicago, Madison, Detroit and Washington, D.C. I did so within my right to “peacefully assemble.” What happened in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday, January 6, was not the people peacefully assembling, it was an insurrection and a riot.

I’ve driven all night or ridden in a bus to march in Washington, D.C. for labor and for peace. We endured the journey, took our place in line, unfurled our banner, chanted and sang, listened to impassioned speakers and then made the journey home. I did it to raise my voice collectively with other concerned Americans. In some cases, individuals chose to escalate the protest through non-violent civil disobedience. They sat down on the street or a building entrance. They knew they would be arrested. When the police arrived, the protesters went quietly. They knowingly took a risk, not sure of their sentence, but wanted to maximize their message by their actions.

In 1995-1997, there was a strike against the Detroit newspapers. Labor and civil rights groups held a mass march, assembling near Tiger Stadium and marching downtown. A bus of Bloomington union members participated. As we were marching, a group ahead of us started smashing newspaper sales boxes. The news media converged on this group. The news reports focused not on the thousands who marched for labor rights in Detroit, it was on the random violence toward metal containers. That violent act negated a story of union solidarity.

Columns,Region: Bloomington,City: Bloomington,Opinion,Region: Central

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January 9, 2021 at 07:36AM

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