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Peaceful protest a cherished right

Protesting a just cause promotes and insures that the Constitution of the United States is still alive and well today. Americans must always be allowed to peacefully assemble and voice their concerns in time of war, abuse or discontent. No one, regardless of what side of the issue you believe in, should condemn or ridicule those who insist on change.

The First Amendment of the Constitution gives every American the opportunity to participate in one of our most cherished rights. If you have not attended a protest, then you have not experienced the euphoric feeling of being a part of a group that becomes one together.

I witnessed such a peaceful protest on Sunday, May 31, here in our great city of Williamsport, and it made me proud that our community hosted the model that the Constitution guaranteed.

Americans gathered in Market Square with their family, friends, children and strangers to peacefully protest what happened to Gorge Floyd in Minnesota. They are rightfully outraged by his death.

Each individual sign held and every chant expressed their inner emotional feelings. As leaders, whether we agree or disagree with their messages, we must pay close attention to them. We must act to improve what needs to be changed and implement those changes in a reasonable time frame. This action will assure that their message was heard and that democracy will prevail over anarchy.

I only witnessed one unfortunate outburst that was quickly extinguished by young men who understood how important this protest was to their cause and they should be commended for taking positive action that assured a peaceful demonstration.

I observed young men and women handing out water bottles for the crowd and cleaning up debris that was left behind so our city looked clean and presentable once the protest was over. I witnessed Justin from Domino’s Pizza deliver pizza at no charge to the crowd and heard recordings from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. that inspired people to gather peacefully but let your message be heard.

As a government, we were prepared with security contingencies. At no time was there ever a situation that law enforcement, first responders, protesters or property were in jeopardy. I can assure you that we were prepared, but instead of showing force, our law enforcement showed restraint by allowing people to express their feelings without interference.

I personally want to thank again our law enforcement officers, first responders, other stakeholders and protesters for being a shining example to the nation on how we must act in times of turmoil.

Tony Mussare is a Lycoming County commissioner.

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