The first amendment zones are designated areas established in response to two disagreeing groups to meet and protest their concerns safely. The first amendment states that Congress shall make no laws prohibiting the free exercise or abridge the freedom of speech or the right to assemble peacefully. That said, the government chose to regulate the time, place, and manner in which these peaceful assemblies would occur, known as the first amendment zones. These zones are necessary to prevent disruption of the public or event going on and that the policies create a content-neutral environment. They also provide a safety barrier for the participants of both protest groups, along with the general public and law enforcement working the event. The policy recommendations to ensure the safety of both groups begins with meeting both parties’ leaders and discussing what they plan to achieve at the protest. Once law enforcement understands both sides’ goals and what they want out of the protest, they can then begin to set up the designated areas and any safety measures that may be needed. This includes two designated areas where both groups can not have a physical altercation, using either barriers or law enforcement officers. Law enforcement must also utilize the correct level of response for the predicted outcome; for example, not using geared up tactical ready officers for a peaceful protest, as this could cause unwanted trouble. Having the appropriate officers and designated areas marked will allow limited access to any altercations and limit the availability of violence.
First amendment zones come with risks and challenges, and the first begins with the idea that free speech should be available everywhere and not in a designated area. Many Universities around the country argue that their freedom of speech should be valid everywhere and not in a small caged-off area that an administration designates. For events such as the DRNC, it is necessary to have these areas to protect both parties and ensure they can protest their causes peacefully. As we have seen multiple times in the news, when protest groups turn violent and the police lose control, there are injuries, deaths, and massive destruction of property. These risks are considered, and the outcome is having first amendment zones to deny the availability of destruction or violence. I believe the benefits of these areas outweigh the possible risk from two parties who have disagreements and the possibility of violence.
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