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Opinion: First Amendment honored at Lula protest
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A small group of protesters and onlookers gather Friday, July 10, 2020, at the Nails @ The Rails in Lula to protest the business. A patron of the business claims to have heard the owner make racially insensitive remarks to a customer. - photo by Scott Rogers

I attended the recent Lula protest as an interested citizen. I was impressed with the decorum of the protesters, the city of Lula folks and government, law enforcement and the press that covered the event. Whether one agreed or disagreed with the protest’s premise, the behavior at the event illustrated the proper spirit of “the right of the people peaceably to assemble” and speak their mind.

The Times’ article of July 10, 2020, covered the event very well, with one tiny addendum. The article reported that a “group of counter protesters also showed up.” I understand this was written on deadline, with no intended ill will.

However, I saw no counter protest, only a half dozen curious citizens. They held no signs, staged no counter protest, didn’t march, didn’t chant and listened to each protester as they spoke. No protester was shouted down or interrupted as they spoke. In fact, many of those listening applauded the protesters after each shared their view. Afterward, several folks spoke individually with the protesters. Certainly, there was passionate and even heated discussion – quite healthy and necessary for democracy – but no fights, nothing broken, no arrests and no ambulances needed.

Not even a stray dog got kicked.

While Lula is not a perfect city, on that day it proved up to the task of hosting diverse – and to some, challenging or opposing viewpoints – in a public forum. All worked together peaceably in the spirit of the First Amendment to have their voices heard, as intended. Such cooperation is increasingly rare, and something to be proud of, in my opinion.

Jim Chapman


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