The Revolution is being Televised
Hali E. Marsocci and Corey B. Friedman
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution provides “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.”
Assembling, and protesting is a form of speech and the moment that an individual or a group is prohibited or inhibited from exercising this right, this constitutional right starts to erode. And, not just for that group, but your rights begin to erode too.
In 1963, the Supreme Court, in Edwards v. South Carolina, fortified the First Amendment when it overturned “breach of the peace” convictions for 180 black students that were arrested and charged for marching to the state capitol to protest discrimination. In Edwards, the Supreme Court stated that a “disorderly crowd, or the fear of one, cannot be used to stop a peaceful demonstration or cancel the right of peaceable assembly.”
The recent societal responses to the killing of George Floyd continue to expose the systemic racism in the justice system as well as amplify what we believe to be unconstitutional actions by this president and parts of our government.
Individuals assembling on their lawns are being shot at with “non-lethal projectiles” and forced inside their homes. Nonviolent protestors are also being shot at with “non-lethal projectiles” in their faces, being bashed with batons, pushed to the ground, and sprayed with tear gas and pepper spray. Police are assaulting protesters with their police vehicles. Members of the press, after identifying themselves as members of the press, are likewise being assaulted and arrested.
Something is not right. A lot has to change.
At Romano Law Group, we are shocked and dismayed by the inhumane killing of George Floyd. Excessive use of force on nonviolent protestors is unacceptable and must stop. Such police action is not just an assault on those individuals, it is an assault on everyone’s First Amendment right and one of the cornerstones of our society. We stand for promoting equality in the justice system – but make no mistake about it, these actions directly relate to you and your rights as an individual in this country. We stand against hatred, racism, and injustice. Too many people -- George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and many others, known and unknown -- have been victims of injustice and we cannot tolerate it.
As an individual, you should never be afraid to speak out for what you believe in. You should never be afraid to tell the government that it is wrong. Through protest and dissent comes change and there should be no doubt that change in this country is needed, now.
According to the UN Report on Racial Disparities by the Sentencing Project, as of 2015, African Americans were more likely than white Americans to be arrested; “…once arrested, they are more likely to be convicted, and once convicted, they are more likely to experience lengthy prison sentences.” “African American adults are 5.9 times as likely to be incarcerated than whites and Hispanics are 3.1 times as likely.” See also U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, Prisoners in 2016, 8tbl. 6 (Jan 2018).
So, what can you do?
To see real change, we must protest and vote. But we must educate ourselves and have dialogue about these very real problems. Elected officials must be held accountable and voices of those impacted must be heard and acted upon.
Perhaps one of our greatest responsibilities is to vote. Make sure you are registered and perform your civic duty in August and in November. You can get the necessary information here: https://www.vote.org/.
Take the time to learn about the history of systemic racism is our nation. Some resources to start this self-education process can be found here:
Give Your Support
Whether it financially or volunteer work, get in the community and give your support. Silence is no longer an option. There are opportunities locally and nationally.
Consider contacting your state and local government officials to hold them accountable.
“Darkness cannot drive our darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
Romano Law Group supports the peaceful protests to effectuate change. Our country will continue to suffer until the ideals of justice and freedom for ALL are recognized.