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Speaking up, speaking out 

Street Smarts

People on the street utilize their right to free speech to explain how free speech and the right to protest should be approached.

click to enlarge Kristin Pratscher
  • Kristin Pratscher

Kristin Pratscher of South Dakota is a student at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology>

Have you ever publicly protested?Yes. I don't know if it would qualify as a protest, but it was more of a gathering of people for a unity festival. It promoted Native American rights. And it did protest the [Dakota Access] Pipeline at that time.

Why is the pipeline issue important to you? I find it important because I go to a science and engineering school, but I live in an area where a lot of Native American rights are not ... like, once I moved to South Dakota, I realized that there's a lot of history that has not been told. There are always two sides to things. Multiple sides. Multiple perspectives. And I saw both sides of the pipeline, so that's why I was very interested in it. I didn't really promote a choice; I just kind of stayed neutral. I'm more of like a perspective kind of person. I'm here to listen and understand multiple perspectives before I make a choice to take action about something.

What should protesters' rights encompass? I believe that it should be exclusively peaceful protesting. Make sure that laws are known, what lands you're protesting on, who they're owned by. And what you are protesting for. It depends on your perspective, and you should go in knowing what it's for.

Is there anything else you could see yourself protesting for, or against? Oh my gosh, yes. I spent some time in Central America, and I saw a silver and gold mine that really took down this area called San Miguel in Guatemala. ... it's more about the politics of mining that I could definitely see myself protesting.

Free speech zones — how do you feel about those? Oh, all for it! In moderation, don't go insulting people and try to stir something up. Be honest, and put thought into your words. That's where it comes from, is understanding people. So if you put thoughts into those words, you know where they're coming from, and you know the intention, hopefully.

click to enlarge Andrew Gallegos
  • Andrew Gallegos

Andrew Gallegos of central Colorado Springs works at Planet Fitness.

Have you ever publicly protested? I have not.

Is there a topic that would send you into the streets to protest? Not anything I can think of off the top of my head.

Are there any activists from the past or present whom you admire? The first thing that comes to mind is a movie that I saw quite some time ago. It was about women's rights to work in the coal mines. The lady that I recall from that was either not getting paid what the men were getting paid, or she wasn't getting as much time to work. And also, the mines were not very safe at that time, so I could admire her for her standing up for herself and for other people, for standing up for their safety and for women.

What rights do you think people should have when it comes to free speech and protesting? I think as long as when they're trying to make their point they're not impeding on someone else's choice to listen or not listen, or impose their will on others. I think they should have the right to be able to do that. But again, as long as they're not imposing their rights on others or hampering any type of progress, because once it gets past a point, then progress is not being made. You have to have a good attitude and you have to have good morals not to step on your own morals.

The word 'imposing' was a good one; do you think that people are imposing on others' rights if they are not protesting within designated areas? Yes, I believe that would be true. If there is a specific area that is designated for a particular event, I think if you are going to want to be heard and voice who you are and how you feel, you still have to fall within the guidelines that are set in order to do that.

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