BRATTLEBORO — Poor, disenfranchised Thomas Abbotts. Our neighbor from Newfane clearly needs a dictionary, a civics lesson, and a reality check.
Mr. Abbotts complains that by outnumbering and out-yelling the MAGA brigade during their recent rally in downtown Brattleboro, the protesters were “terrorizing us into silence.”
First, let's take a moment to address the difference between “silencing” and “disagreeing.” I'm struggling to understand how the protesters - of which I was one - were guilty of censoring anyone's speech.
The MAGAs were certainly free to hold up their signs, flags, and banners and make some noise, which they did. Similarly, the protesters were equally free to do the same, as we did. Did any protesters enlist the state - whose representatives, the Brattleboro Police Department, were in attendance - to censor or silence the MAGAs? Did any protester attempt to put a ball-gag on any MAGA's head, or place their hand over a MAGA mouth?
If that had happened, we would have known about it because the police, seeing white folks in trouble, would have intervened, and it would have made it into Bob Audette's Reformer article.
This smells like sour grapes. Mr. Abbotts seems crabby about the fact that the MAGAs were “overrun” by what he calls the “Black Lives Matter/Antifa crowd.”
I'm so sorry, Mr. Abbotts. Were we protesters supposed to keep a tally of the number of MAGAs and admit - to this public space - only a lesser or equal number of protesters, just so we don't “overrun” your group and make more noise than you? Have you taken time lately to brush up on your First Amendment?
If you wanted more people to support you, then why didn't you invite them? If you claim so many Vermonters are pro-Trump, then where were they?
I wasn't invited to the protest. I saw it happening, crafted a makeshift sign using materials I had in my car, and joined the group that reflected my values: the protesters. I didn't join your group, because you were rallying for an elected official whose policies and behavior turn my stomach.
In chatting with other protestors, I learned many had the same experience: they saw the rally and the protest, and they joined the group that suited them. Maybe your group was overrun simply because you are outnumbered.
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Let's next examine the word “terrorizing” that Mr. Abbotts uses to describe the actions the “unruly, rude, and uneducated tyrants” took in “silencing” him and his group. Yelling, making noise, waving signs around, being near someone, etc. are not acts of terror. Terror is the use of force, intimidation, and violence.
Maybe some of the protesters were annoying to you and your group, Mr. Abbotts, but accusing them of terror is a grave insult to victims of actual terror, such as people blown up by drone strikes, or choked to death by the police.
As “proof” of the protesters' “terrorizing,” Mr. Abbotts cites shoving, slapping, and screaming in faces as evidence. Some of these, if they happened as Mr. Abbotts describes them, could constitute assault. With all of the pro-police banners I saw the MAGAs displaying, did any of these purported victims enlist the Brattleboro Police Department's assistance? They were right there. It wouldn't have even required a phone call.
The other examples, such as “shoving signs in our faces [and] in front of our cameras” are par for the course for a protest.
I know that can be scary, when people get that close to you, but if you're going to consider showing up in public for a rally to support an elected official with near-unprecedented low approval ratings, during a pandemic that he first ignored then continuously fumbled, whose economic policies make poor people poorer and rich people unfathomably rich, who jails toddlers in cages, promotes “grabbing women by the pussy,” described his daughter as “a piece of ass,” referred to people from Mexico as “rapists and thugs,” characterized neo-Nazis as “very fine people,” and encouraged the physical assault of reporters and the state actually terrorizing protesters, then, Mr. Abbott, you should expect a response. And it won't be genteel.
You can “stand tall and proud,” as you wrote, but some of us will stand taller and yell louder, and there will be more and more of us.
And we will be unruly, because disruption is a way to gain power, show solidarity, and create change - history, should you deign to study it, provides numerous examples.
“Rude” is open to interpretation. But we're far from uneducated.
I invite you to get your head out of Fox “News” and join us. If you take the time to listen to us, you'll learn we're fighting for things that will improve your life, too.