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Protesting can be a tricky thing.

Your primary goal is to get across your message to the people in power — those who have the ability to enact change. But you have to capture their attention while not breaking rules, laws or offending the same people you hope to influence.

Protesters have been inside the House and Senate galleries during the current special session to address violent crime.

Protesting gets even trickier when you're protesting in the same chamber where lawmaking is occurring.

As we reported Wednesday, protesters remained mostly quiet during discussions on the House floor, only showing approval of several comments by snapping their fingers. However, after representatives passed the last of their bills, Ohun Ashe, an ExpectUS organizer, started a chant of "Criminal justice reform — not rhetoric."

Other members of the group unfurled a banner that said, "We see you." Security staff in the Capitol rolled up the banner but returned it to the group after they left the chamber.

ExpectUS, the group that was protesting, did the right thing by mostly remaining quiet. They wore white T-shirts with red handprints. At one point, they raised their hands, painted red apparently to convey blood.

It was a good attention-getter, and there's nothing wrong with that. (And we give them bonus points for all wearing protective masks.)

When they started chanting and unfurled a banner, however, that could have crossed the line. In this case, our understanding is that the House was finished with their business, so they didn't disrupt lawmakers' work.

Protests outside the Capitol are often boisterous rallies that include chanting, speeches, signs, etc. And that's fine. But inside the building, especially in the House and Senate chambers where lawmaking is taking place, decorum is essential.

Lawmakers must be allowed to perform their jobs, without distraction, whether you agree or disagree with their attempts to better our state.

The minute protesters disrupt the legislative process, are clearly crossing the line and should be removed from the galleries. Depending on the situation, charges should be brought. Their political persuasion doesn't matter.

In this situation, it appears the protesters approached the line of proper protesting but didn't cross it.

News Tribune

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