There will be a Back The Blue rally Friday evening at the Talbot County Courthouse in Easton.

Organizers of the rally want to show support for law enforcement and the positive work they do for the community.

There have been other rallies and protests at the courthouse recently related to Talbot Boys statue and Black Lives Matter movement.

First and foremost, all these groups and advocates should have the opportunity to exercise their First Amendment rights.

This includes supporters of the police and critics of the police, supporters of President Donald Trump as well as his critics.

The First Amendment protects free speech and the right to peacefully assemble and give voice to our advocacy and grievances. These rights also help set America apart from other countries. Our country’s history is not perfect, but freedom of speech is a key factor in allowing us to learn from our past transgressions and learn about the ideas of others.

Free speech allows us to listen and learn from others, to understand what is like to walk in another’s shoes and has helped foster innovation, creativity and new ideas.

We cannot stress the point of peaceful assembly enough. The unrest and riots in other cities, such as Portland, Oregon, unfortunately is not about the First Amendment and free speech.

Democracy can and at times should be noisy. This is especially important to put checks on those in power and to give voice to those with grievances.

But free speech and protests should not be violent, destructive or seek to shut down those with differing viewpoints. Protest organizers also need to play by the rules with permits and communicating with local officials about their plans. Rallies and protests in Easton, for example, impact local businesses and local government resources.

We are glad to see supporters of the police and Trump supporters voicing their arguments just as we are glad to see peaceful protests from those concerned about police shootings and racial disparities. Honest brokers can recognize there are concerns nationally about how police interact with African Americans, Hispanics and others. There are legitimate worries about use of force, police brutality incidents and the role of race and class in law enforcement interactions. Those need to be addressed regionally and nationally.

But honest brokers should also recognize the positive work police officers can have on our communities. Law enforcement officers are on the frontlines of helping domestic violence, sexual violence and child abuse victims They are often the ones who first helping women and children escape abusive situations. Police officers are also often the first responders helping homeless persons, those with mental health and substance abuse challenges. Good cops help everyone from stranded motorists to rape victims.

An estimated 800,000 children are reported missing every year in the U.S. A number of those missing children and teens (along with young women) are ensnared in human and sex trafficking rings including on the Eastern Shore.

Law enforcement officers are often the ones rescuing missing kids and young women from these rings. That should not be discounted as we work to solve other problems that extend throughout society.

We hope the Back The Blue rally is peaceful and positive Friday evening. We hope the same for other rallies and going forward that all sides of our various debates can be peaceful and respectful of others as they exercise their First Amendment rights.

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