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Getting Answers: Do people have the right to protest amid COVID-19

Lafayette Protest 1
Posted at 6:43 PM, Jun 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-04 23:52:54-04

As protests continue here at home, many of you are asking us, do people have the right to protest amid the coronavirus pandemic?

Tonight KATC is Getting Answers.

The simple answer is yes, people have the right to assemble and protest. This right is protected by the first amendment.

KATC political analyst Dr. Pearson Cross says political speech has the highest protection in our country and our nation was founded on it.

"There have been a number of books written about the revolution and they point that people got out in the streets, protested and that's how our republic was born. It's part of our history and it's the people's right," Cross said.

Speech, assembly and association are fundamental rights.

"The first amendment is pretty straight forward. You have rights to speak out and say what's on your mind. Those rights should be protected," Cross said.

Many viewers have asked what about the Governor's order? Are people violating his guidance by gathering in a large group?

Cross said, "Frankly, unless those orders are narrowly tailored to maybe time, place or manner restrictions or specific to particular kinds of issues, they are almost certainly going to be held as unconstitutional by the courts."

Jamie Angelle, Lafayette Consolidated Government's chief communications officer said, "We don't want to deny folks of their rights. Enough people have been restricted through all of this."

Angelle is encouraging people to speak up to effect change. He says the protests this past weekend were peaceful and he believes future protests will remain the same way.

We asked LCG about the risk of COVID-19 spreading at these protests and Angelle said, "There's no big concern that this will lead to a big spike in cases."

This weekend a march is organized in Lafayette. The group hopes to end white silence and police brutality.

An organizer sent this statement to KATC:

We will march peacefully down Camellia Blvd to protest police brutality, white silence, and call attention to Louisiana having one of the highest incarceration rates in the world that also disproportionately impacts black people. People of color have also been more impacted by COVID-19 across the country, so even in our pursuit of justice, we need to be conscious of the injustices that people of color will face in trying to have their voices heard. We are asking everyone to wear a mask who attends, and we encourage people to remain 6 feet apart.

We welcome people of all political parties, all races, creeds, genders, sexualities, and ages to join us.

Our Speakers:

-Marja Broussard

-Bishop John Wayne Milton

-Poet Alex Johnson

-Nicolas Juarez

-Devon Norman, newly-appointed NAACP Young Adult Committee Chairman

-Father Brooks Boylan from St. Barnabas Episcopal Church

-Francesco Crocco from Move the Mindset

Gathering begins at 10am at the Lafayette Strong Pavilion and parking is available at St. Barnabas Episcopal Church. We are asking people to carpool or be dropped off if they are able.

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