Opinion: KSU, pols wrong to squelch right to protest

Kneeling is as American as apple pie.

Confronting the gaps between our American values and our behavior is patriotism. We are either going forward toward our values; freedom, equality, fairness, and tolerance — or moving away from them. That the Constitution-mocking Cobb County Sheriff Neil Warren and State Rep. Earl Ehrhart attempt to wrap their totalitarian actions in the cloak of patriotism is not lost on those of us who value democracy.

Now that we know Kennesaw State University president Sam Olens caved to the demands of Warren and Ehrhart, they must be stopped. Restore the rights of the Kennesaw cheerleaders to peacefully protest, and limit the overreach of these three out-of-control souls.

I have witnessed the tears and pain of parents whose children were killed by police. I have felt their powerlessness and outrage as our justice system failed them. I have often wondered how they breathe in the stark reality that their child is dead, and our system is unjust. That those inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness did not apply to their brown babies.

Olens, Warren, and Ehrhart will never have to swallow that pain. They won’t have to look at their grandchildren and feel the tight knot of fear in the pit of their stomach. The fear that comes with the reality and violence of racial injustice.

That’s OK. Aside from the fact that all of you are public servants, being black in America is not your reality. But being American is. Intimidating our students, shutting down the democratic process and creating a totalitarian spirit on campus, of all places, is not OK.

John F Kennedy said, “those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

I am ashamed of Cobb and my alma mater, Kennesaw State University.

Alicia Newton is an alumna of Kennesaw State University.

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