The Atlantic

The Whole Concept of ‘Unlawful Assembly’ Is a Mess

“Unlawful assembly” is like “illegal writing” or “forbidden religious exercise”: There surely may be such a thing, but what qualifies?
Source: AP

Recent weeks have produced a lifetime’s worth of haunting images. Some of them everyone has seen: black-clad “agents” hustling citizens into unmarked vans, “counterdemonstrators” with automatic weapons dogging Black Lives Matter protests. Others I have seen in person: on a recent trip to Portland, Oregon, groups of mothers marching in front of a federal courthouse to protect protesters who had been gassed and beaten during previous demonstrations; on a stroll through a neighborhood park in my small hometown of Eugene, Oregon, a dozen masked “security guards” with assault rifles offering protection to anti-police-violence protesters.

And the backdrop to all these sights is the indelible image of a flag-draped coffin bearing the body of Representative John Lewis on his final trip—this one over a path strewn with rose petals—across the Edmund Pettus Bridge, in Selma, Alabama.

Lewis’s cortege recalled a scene from half a century ago—one that echoed strangely amid the alarms and cries of this haunted July.

[Adam Serwer: John Lewis was an American founder]

On Sunday, March 7,, who was beaten and then shot twice in the back during a voting-rights march on February 18 of that year.

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