In November of 2016 I learned about a peaceful protest concerning the Trans Pecos Pipeline being held at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in Austin, Texas. As a great deal of my nonprofit career has been focused on environmental issues, my interest was peaked. I headed over. I wanted to photo document the event and hear the concerns of the protesters.
It was a cloudy day. There were only a few people watching the event that morning, which occurred at the same time the Governor-appointed TPWD Commission was meeting inside the headquarters building.
I roamed about during set-up and through the protest. I was impressed by the heartfelt commitment of the protesters to the natural environment of West Texas, many of whom were parents with young children. And I was also impressed by the calm approach to the protest by the Texas Game Wardens who were on hand to maintain the peace.
“A person’s right to air grievances without fear of retribution or censorship is fundamental to democracy in the United States. Free expression of one’s beliefs is encoded in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which generally protects free speech, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, and freedom of assembly. Protesting — the time-honored practice of publicly speaking out against perceived injustices and urging action — is a form of assembly and thus protected by the Constitution.”
I am concerned about America today and attempts to squelch peaceful public demonstration and protest. Being able to air one’s concerns is a fundamental part of American citizenship to my mind.
I admit, I attended this protest in part to protect the protesters by documenting it in photo and video. Happily, the event was genuinely peaceful and the protesters made their concerns known.
After the event wound down, I sat on a bench next to a fellow who had recently retired in Austin. I was amused by his opening remark, “so, is this your first protest?” It would seem peaceful demonstrations are still in vogue for Boomers, especially in Austin.
Click to read an article from MediaPost, “Common Threads Bind Gen Z and Boomers” (September, 2017).
Fortune posted, “Pipeline Protesters Could Face 20-Year Prison Sentence Under Trump Plan” (June 4, 2019). Let’s hope this doesn’t become reality. Texas Observer also posted, “Pipeline Protesters Could Face 10 Years in Prison Under Bill OK’d by Texas House” (May 1, 2019).