As Baltimore returns to calm after last week’s riots, the American Civil Liberties Union apparently wants to keep the embers of protest alive.
The organization tweeted on Friday “#BlackSpring has begun. Protesters, #knowyourrights.” Included in the image of the tweet is a website explaining their right to protest.
Going to the site, one finds the ACLU’s explanation of the right to protest:
The right to join with fellow citizens in protest or peaceful assembly is critical to a functioning democracy. But it is also unfortunately true that governments and police can violate this right – through the use of mass arrests, illegal use of force, criminalization of protest, and other means intended to thwart free public expression.
Thousands of protesters exercised that right Saturday for what organizers called a “victory rally,” during which they chanted, “No justice, no peace.”
President of the NAACP and former Congressman Kweisi Mfume said regarding the protests:
This current generation has realized that it has to shape its destiny and not wait for it to be shaped. I think now they’re starting to come to grips with the enormity of this and what they have caused to take place nationwide, and are embracing the fact that perhaps, this is our civil rights movement.
State Attorney Marilyn Mosby, 35, echoed that sentiment when announcing the charges against six Baltimore police officers involved in Freddie Gray’s arrest. She said to the youth of the city, “This is a moment. This is your moment.…You’re at the forefront of this cause and as young people, our time is now.”
The ACLU’s use of the words “Black Spring” regarding the protests is a clear reference to the Arab Spring earlier in the decade, which, at best, has had mixed results. The BBC points out that some of the fallout of the movement, driven largely by Arab youth, has led to an increase in sectarian (Sunni vs. Shia) violence. Also, Iran has become the dominant power in the region, and women’s rights have been trampled on in many instances. Though the jury is still out, Tunisia and Egypt seem to be on a more hopeful path recently.