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Protests in Fayetteville are nothing new. It's a happening college town filled with people who keep up with things and don't mind speaking up. Drive by the Washington County Courthouse at Dickson and College on any given Sunday afternoon, and chances are some group will be out there with signs to protest something.

Democracy in action. The right to peacefully assemble. What a country! What a state! What a city!

Then again, some protesters don't always think things through. Which is what you get with protesters. They're the action types. The change agents. Jumping the gun comes with the territory.

(We can remember in 2016 when a rally shut down the I-40 bridge in Memphis as hundreds of protesters refused to leave. An ambulance with a sick child inside ended up caught in the fray, and a photo from that night showed parents handing the child off to paramedics on the bridge so the sick kid could get to the hospital. At some point, organizers need to be organized.)

Back to Fayetteville: On Tuesday night at a city council meeting, protesters again showed more action than thought. During a rather long meeting concerning a parking deck on Dickson Street, protesters pushed open the door (rather loudly) and barged in. With their faces covered. Holding signs.

There were just a handful of them, and reporter Stacy Ryburn caught the thing on video. Poor guy ended up juggling three stories that night.

A friend, who happened to be in the meeting room, raised a good point: It was just weeks ago that Texas experienced a tragic shooting when someone walked into a church with a gun. Pounding through a door, at a public meeting, while wearing masks is asking for trouble, y'all.

Thankfully, these protesters were peaceful enough. They were upset with law enforcement, specifically the agencies in charge of deporting illegal aliens. A few of them held a banner: "Fayetteville deports artists of color." They chanted for an end to the federal program that places holds on inmates by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, aka ICE.

We can have a debate about the pros and cons of ICE and immigration enforcement. But here are a couple considerations:

It's probably not wise to storm into a public meeting looking and sounding like a threat. Our protesting friends are fortunate that an armed and jumpy individual wasn't among the crowd. Keep in mind, all this happened just a month after a Fayetteville police officer was shot and killed behind the nearby police station. Folks, and not just law enforcement, are on edge just now.

Also, city government has no control over what county government does, or how the sheriff's office works with ICE. These folks were protesting the wrong government.

Maybe next time these protesters plan to demonstrate for a cause, they'll be a little smarter about how they go about it. This was poor form--and could have been dangerous. Thankfully, everything remained peaceful, and the protesters left without any arrests.

What a country.

Editorial on 01/24/2020

Print Headline: Rethink tactics, y'all

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