Sunday, April 2, 2017

Georgia Is A Hotbed of Political Activism As Resistance Groups Grow

PRESIDENT TRUMP just signed a declaration designating April as National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month.  Quoting Forrest Gump, “That’s all I have to say about that!”

I HAVE WRITTEN about the First Amendment before, but it bears repeating as many times as it takes for people to support the First Amendment as fervently as they do the Second Amendment.  After all, it is not the right to bear arms that makes America great and differentiates us from other nations.  It is the privileges afforded the citizens of this country in Amendment No. 1. 

AS A Reminder, Amendment No. 1 reads, 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.

FOR INSTANCE, it is the First Amendment that makes us different from Russia.  There have been four assassinations of Vladimir Putin’s critics in the past month, and one attempted assassination by poisoning (for the second time).  Alexei Navalny will be the next to die.  He is currently Putin’s most prominent critic who organized an unsanctioned protest against the widespread corruption in the country last week.  There were 60,000 opposition supporters with rallies held in 82 cities.  800 protesters were arrested in Moscow alone.  This was the largest anti-Kremlin protest since 2008.

ALEXEI NAVALNY, was arrested before the demonstrations even started and the organization headquarters was raided.  He is in jail, serving a 21-day sentence.  His next offense calls for a mandatory five-year jail sentence.  His arrest solidified Navalny as leader of Russia’s opposition movement against Putin. When, and if he is released, I don’t know if a piano will fall on his head, if he will trip and fall off a high-rise building, or if someone will accidentally shoot him five times in St. Petersburg Square.  Either way, he’s a dead man!

THESE PROTESTERS in Russia are brave souls.  They don’t have the protections of a constitution like ours—like our Amendment No. 1.  Their life is on the line from the first time they protest and forever more.  In contrast, on the day after Trump was sworn in as President, half a million protesters marched in Washington, D.C.  These marches were also held in all fifty states in this country for a total of 3.2 million people.  NOT A SINGLE ARREST!  That’s what truly makes our country great. 

AT THIS TIME in our history, we are seeing the rise and growth of resistance organizations like I’ve never seen before in my lifetime.  The most prolific of the groups is Indivisible, so named after a guide written by former congressional staffers on effective activism and how to behave while protesting. These groups located in every state grew organically.  There is no central leader and local groups determine their own platform and agendas.  At last count, there were 75 Indivisible organizations across Georgia with 6 of those in middle-Georgia. There is another resistance group in Georgia that has 19,000 members. There’s no way to know how many more of these groups exist.   However, if you see Senator David Perdue, ask him.  He may know because he is in their sights for refusing to hold a town hall meeting or even show his face in Georgia.

THE GEORGIA Legislature adjourned on Friday.  We, the people, came out mainly unscathed, but it wasn’t for the lack of trying by the lawmakers.  Public pressure caused the death of some bills and major changes to others.  One such bill was Senate Bill 160, called the Back the Badge Act of 2017.  While the Act places harsh mandatory sentences on certain acts against a police officer during a protest, tucked inside was also an increase in the penalty for certain protest activities such as blocking a sidewalk or a street.  Thanks to Senator Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta and Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain, for their fierce objection to this section, and to all the activists that sent letters and made phone calls.  This section was removed from the Act and our First Amendment Rights preserved. 

GEORGIA HAS never been a hotbed of political activism and most of the members have never been involved in a resistance of any kind.  I call these groups “sleeper cells.”

MY HOPE is that law enforcement, judges, and local politicians will familiarize themselves with the protections afforded under the First Amendment for nonviolent protesting, as well as they know the protections of the Second Amendment to own and carry guns.

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