Supporters greet President Trump in Palm Beach, Florida, January 20, 2021, file image.
As one of the most experienced conservative street activists who was active in our Nation’s Capital for over a decade, I want to offer my advice on whether to go out and protest (yes) and how to do it.
First, some background. I was active in the D.C. Chapter of FreeRepublic.com from 1998 into the early 2010s, but mostly through the end of 2007 when I left the area and returned a few times a year. I organized hundreds of street protests and counter-protests against President Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Al Gore and other corrupt Democrat politicians. I organized an annual protest of liberal media bias outside the White House Correspondents Dinner for about fifteen years. Through Free Republic, Move America Forward and the Gathering of Eagles, we organized several rallies and counter-rallies supporting our troops in the war on terror in the years after 9/11. On a few occasions, we acted as human shields against the violent left and radical Islamists, protecting The White House, the Danish Embassy, Armed Forces Recruiting stations and even the Washington Post. I also helped organize the FReeper inaugural ball in 2005 attended by nearly 1,000 guests or so.
We dealt with D.C. Police, Capitol Police, Park Police, Secret Service, various other federal law enforcement agencies and the military in demonstrations at the White House, Capitol, Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial, the National Mall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Arlington Cemetery, the old Walter Reed Army Hospital, the Vice President’s Residence, aka “Cheney’s House”, and many locales in and around D.C.
We faced off against communists, anarchists, Black Bloc (pre-Antifa), Code Pink, ANSWER, radical Islamists, Democrats, RINOs, dishonest media and the Westboro Baptist Church extremists.
We did all that by being peaceful and behaving in a civilized manner at all times. We hade a code of conduct that served us well.
Briefly, it read, “No violence, no racism, no profanity, no provocations, obey the law and treat all law enforcement officers with respect.”
We also had other rules:
No physical contact with opponents and try to stay out of arm’s length from them. No retaliations if they attack you–step back, walk away, find a cop. Only defend yourself if you are in danger. We wanted our demonstrations to stay peaceful and we remembered the old basketball rule the referee only sees the second punch thrown, not the first.
Just about all weapons of self-defense were banned in D.C., so we didn’t have to worry about people coming armed to our protests. My preference is for no open carry and discreet concealed carry if you must.
And no masks. We never hid ourselves behind a mask. The KKK and Antifa wear masks. Not conservatives–unless we were in costume mocking Hillary, Saddam or crybaby reporters for example.
The flags we allowed were the American flag, state flags, military service branch flags, the Gadsden and Culpeper flags, and flags of our allies in the war on terror (these days we would add in the non-profane Trump flags.) Our people knew better than to show up with a Confederate battle flag so we never had to tell them to leave if someone had shown up with one. We did not burn flags or damage property.
Our signs were clever, funny, pointed and quite serious, depending on the occasion. We did not use profanity (with the exception of a rare vulgarity). We policed our signs and disallowed those that were off-message or violated our rules. We were told many times we had the best protest signs in D.C.
We policed our membership. No one who was a racist, violent or encouraged violence and criminality or broke our rules was allowed in our group or at our protests. We warned hotheads to stay away from protests that were likely to be contentious just as we warned not to bring children to some of the more edgy protests.
Our experience in D.C. was similar to that of the pro-life demonstrators who marched every year for decades, the Tea Party activists who came after us and the Trump rallies from 2015 through 2020. No arrests, no unprovoked violence on our part (extremely rare at that) and we left the place cleaner than how we found it.
All that changed of course on January 6, 2021.
I had been in D.C. for the December 12, 2020 pro-Trump rallies at Freedom Plaza and on the National Mall. It was a beautiful day filled with beautiful people who peacefully rallied and then marched on the Capitol and Supreme Court.
Later that evening the Proud Boys and Antifa fought it out in the street. I stayed away, but drove around for a while that night to see for myself at a distance.
My Spidey-sense told me to stay home on January 6, so I did.
But with Trump supporters now recognizing that provocateurs and federal agents will attempt to infiltrate protests, my recommendation would be to go ahead and protest–but to tightly police your gatherings. Best to avoid the whole lot of ’em.
I would also tell people who show up in camo or khaki like these guys to get lost.
Tell the hotheads and people who don’t want to follow the rules and those you just don’t want around they are free to protest elsewhere–just not with your group. Be firm. It’s your protest.
You can still have fun and make your voice heard doing it like this. I know. I did it successfully in the belly of the beast for over a decade without being arrested or beaten.
Rights must be exercised or they will be taken away. The Democrats are using the powers of government to suppress conservatives. Peaceful, passionate protest is a must if we are to reclaim our Constitutional form of government from those who have abused their powers and subverted the government from within.
There are other means of protest and activism besides street protests. Use them too, but don’t give up “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”