The Trump Administration Is Putting A Price On Free Speech [Opinion]

Tasos KatopodisGetty Images

The right to assemble and the right to freedom of speech is guaranteed under the First Amendment. But under Trump, it’s no longer going to be free.

The National Park Service has a proposal that will prevent people from protesting for free on the National Mall. This is a famous space that has been used for rallies, demonstrations, protests and gatherings of all sorts — including the famous “I have a dream” speech delivered by Martin Luther King, Jr.

And under this proposal, people who want to gather in the National Mall must pay for the privilege, according to NJ.com.

The National Mall is a large, open area in front of the Washington Monument. Many protests and rallies are held here yearly.

“It is the stage upon which Americans have long exercised their rights, guaranteed by the Constitution, to freely assemble and petition their representative government,” said Allen Dickerson, the legal director of the Institute for Free Speech.

More than 700 protests and demonstrations took place on the National Mall in 2017 alone, including the Unite the Right March.

Oh, but that’s not all. The proposal doesn’t stop at curtailing the use of the National Mall. Also included on the list of places that would become pay-to-protest are Lafayette Square, which is across from the White House, and the sidewalks on Pennsylvania Avenue in front of Trump International Hotel.

The right to assemble is an incredibly important right, and we as Americans have taken it for granted for a long, long time. From the Boston Tea Party to Occupy Wall Street, the right to assemble has been used through the centuries by the American people. And the right to assemble where the President can see you has always been guaranteed…until now.

Featured image credit: Chip SomodevillaGetty Images

Preventing the right of a public to assemble has been seen before in many places around the world, but never here. Dictators and tyrants of all types have prevented the public’s right to assemble. This is what happened in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China in 1989.

Almost a million Chinese citizens, the majority of them young students, swarmed the square to protest on behalf of democracy. They were demanding the resignation of Communist Party leaders. They marched, they chanted, they staged protests daily for three weeks.

On June 4, troops stormed into the square, killing and arresting people at will. The troops fired their weapons into protesters. As many as 10,000 were arrested, and hundreds (and maybe thousands) were killed, according to The History Channel.

Protesters, attempting to enjoy the right that Americans have always had. Until Donald Trump took over the White House, the National Park Service and everything else.

Trump, who already deployed troops to the U.S.-Mexican border, where women and children were pushed back from the border by American troops throwing tear gas at them.

So if you think that something like Tiananmen Square couldn’t possibly take place in America, guess again. The First Amendment has already failed. It was just in October that a journalist living and working in America walked into the Saudi Arabian consulate, where he was brutally tortured, murdered and dismembered. His body still has not been recovered as of December.

And Donald Trump says that the U.S. and Saudi Arabia will continue in their current relationship. If it’s not illegal to kill a journalist who innocently went to a consulate to obtain paperwork, why wouldn’t Donald Trump have troops drag protesters out of the National Mall?

You know the answer. He would.