In 1963, in the city of Birmingham, Alabama in the United States, a photographer of the Associated Press took the photograph of policemen using attack dogs to rein in Walter Gadsden, an African-American observing a protest march against racial segregation.
That photograph and others of the violent dispersal of the marchers so captured the viciousness of racism in the United States that they all but galvanized public support for what would become the Civil Rights Act of 1964, an anti-racial discrimination law that president John F. Kennedy himself proposed.
Last Monday, photographs of violence amid a protest march staged by militants some distance from the venue of President Benigno Aquino III’s State of the Nation Address did the rounds of online social networks.
The photograph of wooden pole-toting marchers smashing a police vehicle and others like it so captured the belligerence of the militant left that it has all but galvanized netizens to lose what shred of respect they may have had left for them.
Referring to the picture, a Facebook subscriber wrote, “Today, it’s not the President, but the protesters who have to answer a lot of questions. And yes, I would like to hear how they intend to explain this to us, the people, who they claim to represent.”
The Philippine Daily Inquirer reported that fire trucks, steel barricades and a 6,000-strong police force blocked the protesters led by the leftist group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) on Commonwealth Avenue in front of Ever Gotesco mall about 2 kilometers from the Congress building.
“A brief scuffle ensued when a group led by the militant League of Filipino Students attempted to breach the police line after the effigies were burned.
“Bayan said 95 protesters, mostly students, were hurt as stones flew at midafternoon. Bayan said 11 of those injured required treatment at East Avenue Medical Center. The Philippine National Red Cross reported 16 injuries,” the report read.
The question now is who cast the first stone. The police were, as usual, ordered to exercise maximum tolerance and even gave the protesters leeway considering that a permit had yet to be issued for their activity.
“Chief Superintendent Mario de la Vega said the injured included two foreign news agency photographers, two local TV cameramen, 10 policemen and a garbage truck driver. He said the protesters also destroyed a police car and a garbage truck.”
The Bill of Rights in the 1987 Philippine Constitution protects everyone’s right “peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances.”
Some groups need to go and learn the meaning of “peaceable.” Last time we checked, being peaceable had nothing to do with throwing stones, smashing cars or hurting people.
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