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Friday, January 23, 2015

Thoughts on protest tactics and coverage

Posted by Scott Tibbs at 4:00 AM (#)

This past Sunday, about 150 anti-abortion demonstrators blocked traffic on a heavily-traveled Bloomington street. Many of them wore bandanas to hide their faces (how gangsta!) and one of them was arrested for assaulting a police officer. The scene generated considerable outrage in the community and especially on Herald-Times story comments.

Now of course, that did not happen. Well, it did happen, but it was the "Reclaim MLK" protesters who committed those acts. If that is what we had done, you can imagine the reaction - and that reaction would be justifiable.

The anti-abortion protest was 225 people and had no illegal obstruction of traffic and certainly no assault on police. Christian Citizens for Life paid $500 to reserve the county courthouse (including a refundable damage deposit) and some volunteers picked up trash that was left on the courthouse lawn before we got there. The weather was nice this past Sunday, but young men from CCFL would often shovel and salt the sidewalks (with donated salt) around the courthouse to ensure the people attending are safe. Guess which protest was covered and which was not?

The "Reclaim MLK" protesters said they needed to block traffic to get people's attention and make the public face an important issue. One could argue that if the tiny number of police shootings necessitates blocking traffic to force people to face the issue, the 3200 babies killed every day by abortion (a disproportionate number of whom are black) would be a much bigger justification for blocking traffic. Yet you can imagine the reaction had we done that.

The covering of the protesters' faces is an unnecessary tactic. What is the purpose of hiding their faces? Do they really think they will face repercussions in Bloomington Indiana if their faces were not covered? This is a tactic that is common in anarchist protest and is arguably intended to be intimidating. If your message is that important, do not be afraid to show your face - especially since this was meant to honor Martin Luther King, who never hid his face.

The H-T again failed to cover the Rally for Life, which is consistently one of the biggest public events in Bloomington on an issue of social and cultural significance, as well as significance in the local political arena. The newspaper was notified of the rally well in advance, and there was no reason a reporter could not have been dispatched.

This was a great rally, and Pastor Jody Killingsworth delivered a powerful keynote address about abortion and our own culpability in it. The weather and turnout were excellent. It would be much better, though if we never had another rally because unborn babies' lives would be protected.


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