Justice is equitable, not equal

Protesting can level the playing field when used properly

Angela Ide, Opinions Editor

After the acquittal of the police officers responsible for the unnecessary death of Breonna Taylor, on Wednesday, September 23rd, the scales of justice have been shown to be unbalanced and biased once again.

The voices of Taylor’s loved ones and all those who see their reflection in her face are crying for systemic change. They have been dehumanized and vilified. In a country, built on the ideal that those oppressed can throw off the hands of the oppressors, something has to be done.

Police brutality and injustice towards black communities and people, Civil Rights, Women’s Suffrage, the safety and protection of children workers, putting an end to sex trafficking, independence from our colonizers, Britain; these are just a few of the reasons people in America have united behind a cause and called for change.

As the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America States clearly says, “Congress shall make no law…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 First Amendment makes it very clear that everyone can freely assemble to address the problems and systemic issues that need to be fixed or changed. But in a year muddied with unpleasant truths, added difficulties, and a heightened awareness of systemic issues, the question of whether people should gather and protest has slowly risen to the forefront.

Following the unjust death of George Floyd at the knees of police officers and the countless dead Black Americans, Black Lives Matter and police brutality protests quickly spread throughout this nation and overseas. These protests were aimed and planned for the purpose of bringing awareness, once again, to the many men, women, and children who have died at the hands of police officers without warning or cause.

As the protests and societal cry for change continued, other causes started to jump at the opportunity to make their voices heard. That is what protests are for, as stated in the Constitution. But at what point do people justify taking their cause to the streets?

Right as the BLM protests were at their peak moment, COVID-19 safety precautions became paramount and the health concerns of a global pandemic were seated next to police brutality and death.

Rising from the discomfort and rediscovered connectivity of social media, other protests gained traction, like QAnon protests through social media, COVID-19 government response inadequacies, and protests for the freedom to do as one chooses despite health concerns.

All of these protests, as long as they stay peaceful, are protected and freely allowed under the First Amendment, but they are not equal causes, and should not be treated as such.

It is one thing to say that an entire population is being exploited for sex and everyone needs to see and hear their stories on the media platforms people use the most. It is an entirely different issue to gather in a suburban park and say, “I feel oppressed because I can’t have a normal comfortable life just because there’s a global pandemic currently happening.”

It means something entirely different to say that the law enforcement system that is supposed to protect and serve the most vulnerable people continues to hurt and kill black people just because they are black.

Putting all three of these protests on the same medium and level of its importance is degrading to all of them. Protests are intended to right wrongs and balance out uneven opportunities, but some issues don’t need a whole lot of change. As necessary as it is to be able to protest, it is just as necessary to know when not to protest.

Being told that for the health of others, the comfortable have to give up some of their privileges does not justify a protest. Taking the proper legal steps to hold police officers accountable for their actions and being told that just isn’t possible, that deserves protesting.