Police kept the peace
They protested without hurting themselves or others.
I promised a round of applause for Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton if he and his city management and law enforcement teams managed to keep the peace between protesters and counterprotesters at last night’s free speech/anti-Islam/whatever you want to call it rally.
The verdict? They managed! Mr. Stanton, this one’s for you.
USA Today explains how things played out:
Police presence increased by 6:30 p.m. to physically separate the two sides outside the Islamic Community Center of Phoenix.
About 20 cars and 15 motorcycles traveled from a protester meeting point at a nearby park to the mosque around 6 p.m., where people from the two sides used megaphones to yell at each other and were at times nose-to-nose.
A large group of counter protesters held signs reading “Love not Hate,” as others waved American flags and one man ripped the Quran in half.
Counter protesters wearing blue lined the side closest to the mosque. They said they came from Redemption Church in Tempe and wore the color to be a peaceful presence.
Few people showed up for the mosque’s scheduled prayer service.
Supporters on both sides of the issue took to Twitter to speak their minds—and air their grievances:
I don't "get" the #PhxMosque thing. I wouldn't appreciate people protesting outside a church, so I can't support it outside a mosque.
— Jezebel Jalen (@GOPMommy) May 30, 2015
PHX PD are the real MVPs tonight. Proactive actions to ensure rally remains peaceful. #PHxMosque
— Josh Offenhartz (@Johartz) May 30, 2015
To sum up tonight's proceedings:
— Tyler McNally (@Tyler_McNally) May 30, 2015
"I have examined all religions, and the result is that the Bible is the best book in the world." ~ John Adams #PHxMosque
— Matthew Burke (@MatthewKBurke) May 30, 2015
Guess I've been too busy hanging out with cool Phoenix Muslim families to consider protesting a #phxmosque.
— jon gabriel (@exjon) May 30, 2015
A reporter with a local ABC affiliate was on the ground and working her way through the crowd during the protest, and was able to catch some of the more intense moments between the rally participants and counterprotesters who came out in support of the mosque.
I’ve been trying to come up with some sort of takeaway from all this. Maybe…a victory for free speech? I believe any victory for free speech is worth talking about, but I’m also taken aback at my own excitement over the fact that no one was injured.
I’m going to go with a victory for free speech because that’s what matters here. Protesters were free to protest, pro-Islam supporters were allowed to respond, and the city of Phoenix made sure that nobody moved from the realm of the First Amendment into the realm of a jail cell.
I don’t like everything I heard and saw in connection with this protest; fortunately for everyone in Phoenix, that doesn’t matter.
Isn’t America great?
Featured Image via 12 News.