Emily Gibbens, Opinion Editor

Imagine traveling all the way to Washington, D.C. to witness history, only to be blocked out of the entrance by angry people yelling at you. Or trying to listen to a speech made by the new president, but all you can hear are screeching whistles being blown as a distraction. What if you were a limousine driver or a barista in Starbucks simply doing your job, but someone had the audacity to start your limo on fire or smash the windows of the store you were working in for no apparent reason?

Do you get the picture?

This is an exact description of what I witnessed happening at President Trump’s inauguration on Jan. 20. These ridiculous people labeled themselves as protestors, but what they were doing was not protesting.

They were rioting.

The ones vandalizing property and threatening people are the same ones who don’t think they should be punished for their actions. You can’t break the law and cry “First Amendment.” Freedom of speech doesn’t protect you when you’re breaking the law. No one has the right to injure people or frighten people the way they were.

While I was at my hotel in Arlington getting ready for bed the night before the inauguration, the news was buzzing in the background reporting on the riots going on throughout the city. My attention was immediately grabbed when I heard an 11-year-old boy speaking.

This young child was out late on a Thursday night at a riot. Not only that, but this poor, misguided child was proud to be announcing to the interviewers that he was the one to start the fire outside of the “DeploraBall” at the National Press Club.

When asked why he started the fire, he arrogantly responded, “Because I wanted to.”

And that is what our world has come to. An 11-year-old child thinks it’s okay to put people in danger to prove a point. He’s fighting a battle that he doesn’t even understand, nor should he have to, because he’s 11. But honestly what is the point this child and the rest of the rioters trying to get across?

These people are protesting the actions of Donald Trump. They are fighting against a man who they accuse of being unaccepting and hateful. But what are they using to get their message across? More hate. They want the world to come together peacefully, yet they scream profanities at innocent bystanders and throw objects at the people who risk their lives to protect us.

It doesn’t matter what you believe in or who you support. It is never okay to act the way these people are acting. What are these temper tantrums going to change?

I understand, some protestors intentionally break the law in hopes of getting arrested. They want to fill the jails, to put the state in an uncomfortable position. This is called civil disobedience. An example of civil disobedience is how the Dakota Access Pipeline protest at Standing Rock started.

They trespassed, made a giant camp and refused to move in hopes of getting arrested. Although it ended up getting violent, they had the right idea of what a protest should be like in the beginning. And their actions and arrests succeeded in baffling the state. North Dakota and governor Jack Dalrymple had no idea how to handle the situation.

But what happened in Washington was far beyond civil disobedience. There is no integrity left in what they are doing; they have no reason to be proud of their actions.

I love a good protest. But we seem to have lost what the essence of the word protest means. Go ahead and protest. Everyone has the right to voice their opinion, but don’t follow in the footsteps of these rioters. Fight for what you believe in. But do it right.

Emily Gibbens is the opinion editor for   The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected]