So, here we go again.
On Friday, “Reopen PA” says they’ll be back in town, at the state Capitol, to protest the commonwealth’s lockdown orders and business restrictions, with no doubt the usual abundance of MAGA hats, pro-Trump flags and vendors hawking Trump/Pence 2020 T-shirts.
And, on its face, that’s perfectly fine.
They have a right, as do you and I, to protest and ask the government for a redress of grievances.
But here’s what they don’t have a right to do. They have no right to terrorize the residents of the capital city.
Nearly a month ago, during the first Reopen PA/Trump rally, protesters jumped off the back of a military-style vehicle, dressed in combat gear and began unloading guns off the rear of the truck.
They circled the Capitol building for hours in their cars and trucks, gridlocking several major streets, preventing us, as well as emergency vehicles, from being able to go anywhere.
They leaned on their horns all morning and all afternoon, creating unceasing, ear-splitting cacophony in our neighborhoods.
They open-carried enormous weapons through our quiet residential streets.
And the authorities just let it roll.
The Capitol and state police, of course, were vigilant in protecting the big, empty white building with the green dome.
As I covered the event, police shouted at me when they thought I had encroached too far from the sidewalk onto 3rd Street—just as some guy waving an enormous American flag, which he had desecrated by writing, in giant letters, the word “Trump” on it, conspicuously marched down the middle of the road (pictured above).
That day, the residents of downtown and Midtown Harrisburg felt like sitting ducks, with little visible law enforcement—local, state, whatever—standing between us and some very angry, very well-armed people.
The irony was that then, presumably like this Friday, the subjects of the protest–the governor, the health secretary and most legislators–weren’t even in the capital city. The only people here were the residents, and we bore the brunt of the hate, anger and aggressiveness aimed at other people.
By choosing to live in Harrisburg, we know that sometimes we’ll be inconvenienced by this or that protest or demonstration. And that’s fine. That’s democracy.
However, we shouldn’t have to fear for our safety, either.
So, to the protesters—welcome to Harrisburg. Please respect our city, our regulations and the people who live here. And please limit your protest to the immediate area around the Capitol building. The “Golden Rule” applies. I’m pretty sure that you also don’t want eight hours of horns blaring, gridlocked streets and scary-looking dudes armed to the teeth wandering around your street or cul de sac.
And to our elected and law enforcement officials—you have a duty not only to protect the guys in the gray suits but to protect us. We have ordinances about noise, traffic, public disturbances, etc., in our neighborhoods. Please enforce them.
Lawrance Binda is co-publisher/editor-in-chief of TheBurg.