Protestors gather at State House over free speech concerns

Protestors gather at State House over free speech concerns
(Source: Chris Joseph)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - A group of roughly 40 protestors gathered in the shadow of the State House on Sunday, concerned over free speech.

In the aftermath of Trump supporters storming the capitol building, large social media platforms began cracking down on pages that promote conspiracy theories about the election and the federal government.

President Donald Trump’s Twitter account was among those banned in the following days.

RELATED STORY Ι Twitter bans Trump, citing risk of violent incitement

Florence resident Shawn Laurie organized the event, titled “Drive4America”.

“A lot of us out here, all the speakers, we’re on social media, we’re starting to notice that a lot of us are being shadow banned or our voices aren’t being heard,” he said.

Laurie said he wants government leaders to “address it” in an effort to protect free speech.

“It’s already a lot of extreme stuff going on, and a lot of people are misinterpreting who we are. I’m a patriot, I’m a veteran, I’m not a racist, I’m not hateful, I’m not violent. I’m an American and that’s it,” he said.

The first amendment prevents Congress from passing laws to restrict speech or the press. It does not apply to private companies creating their own policies.

It reads:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

“I hear a lot of people come at me and they’re like oh well, the private companies, big tech they’re allowed to silence you. But okay if that’s the case, why would you let one side speak their opinion and not the other,” he said.

There was a large law enforcement presence at the statehouse and the event was peaceful.

Laurie said he does not condone what happened at the capitol building, and the restriction of his speech keeps others from understanding who he is.

“It’s already a lot of extreme stuff going on, and a lot of people are misinterpreting who we are. I’m a patriot, I’m a veteran, I’m not a racist, I’m not hateful, I’m not violent. I’m an American and that’s it,” he said.

Copyright 2021 WIS. All rights reserved.