Dan Aymar-Blair: Standing Rock Is a Model of the Right of Peaceful Assembly

The Article 20 Network's executive director writes in Truth Dig about what Standing Rock teaches us about the contemporary state of the freedom of peaceful assembly. 

The rerouting of the Dakota Access pipeline was a much-needed victory for the rights of indigenous peoples and the sanctity of the environment. The stand at Standing Rock also proved to be a victory for a human right we don’t hear much about: the freedom of peaceful assembly.

Peaceful assembly is the presence of individuals in a public forum as an expression of opinion. Often confused with free speech or other expressive human rights, assembly is expressed through presence, what I call the “body as voice.” Thus, when, where and how we make our presence known to others is fundamental to the expression of assembly.

The Power of Protest

When Aymar-Blair sat down to speak with The Current about the Article 20 Network a week after the U.S. presidential election, he noted it was also the five-year anniversary of two events he said marked “the end of my street activism”: Members of the Occupy Wall Street movement being evicted from Zuccotti Park in New York City, and the birth of his first child.