Get out and exercise your First Amendment rights

Guest Commentary
By: 
Liz Kearney
Livingston Enterprise Staff Writer

Reports estimate that about 10,000 women — and men — attended the Women’s March in Helena last Saturday. That’s about 1 percent of Montana’s population who were willing to stand outside in 20-plus-degree temperatures.
Park County was well represented in Helena, and a few locals even made it to the big march in Washington, D.C.  
It is right that they did so. The right to protest, to peaceably assemble, are deeply American rights guaranteed in the First Amendment to the Constitution.
And it is right that so many people gathered to show their support for the Women’s March, which was about so much more than women’s rights. People gathered to show support for immigrants, people of the Muslim faith, the disabled, belief in the scientific accuracy of climate change, the environment and public lands — all challenged or threatened by our 45th president and other elected officials during the recent presidential campaign season.
And the marches will continue.
On Friday, supporters attended a March for Life — an annual march against abortion — across the U.S., including Helena.
Over the weekend, when an executive order banning people entering the U.S. from selected, Muslim-majority nations suddenly went into effect, people spontaneously gathered at international airports across the country to protest this unfair treatment of innocent people, many of whom were legal American immigrants with green cards trying to return home. The national news media had stories about Iranian-American doctors unable to get home and an Iraqi translator who had helped American forces in the American-made war in his country.
At press time, a march for public lands was slated to begin at noon today in Helena with the slogan, “Keep it Public.” There’s already a bill before Congress proposing to sell off 3.3 million acres of federal land across the Western states, including Montana. Public land advocates will oppose this bill as it makes its way through the legislative channels.
Nationwide protests are planned on April 29 — the “People’s Climate Movement,” a march for jobs, justice and the climate.
“Ninety percent of life is showing up,” is how the old adage goes. If you don’t like what’s going on — or you want to support something that you approve of — show up. It’s one of the most important American rights we have.

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