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Protesting, rioting and what it means to Americans

WAXAHACHIE – The latest incident in Minneapolis with the murder of George Floyd has left a void in many people’s hearts. As protesters from around the country have taken to the streets to show their horror at what happened, rioters and looters have taken center stage and left parts of cities, including Dallas, in shambles.

What is the right of Americans to peacefully protest under the First Amendment?

ECP-TV recently interviewed Ellis County Sheriff Chuck Edge and City of Glenn Heights Police Chief Vernell Dooley to discuss when a protest must be broken up and why as well. Also discussed was the decision the officer in Minneapolis made taking Floyd’s life.


Over the weekend we saw protesters arrested, but why was that if American’s have the right to assemble?

Sheriff Edge said, “We don’t have the right to arrest someone who is peacefully protesting. The only time we can become involved is when that peaceful protest has become an unpeaceful riot or demonstration. 

“You have a right to protest, but you do not have a right to destroy someone’s property. 

“You do not have a right to assault someone because then you just took your peaceful protest into a demonstration – and then law enforcement does have a right to step in.”


But what happens if only some of the people in the crowd are violent – and the rest of the crowd really does want to remain peaceful?

“Once we disburse the crowd, we are not telling you that you can’t peacefully protest – we are telling you to leave now because this is turning into a bad situation,” Edge said.

Chief Dooley added, “The arrests occur when the protesters start damaging property and hurting others. That is when these arrests happen. But as we disburse the crowd and are met with resistance, that also can lead to additional arrests – but only for those individuals who are committing those offenses and those crimes.”  

Edge also mentioned, “If you are asked to disburse – you have to disburse. The peaceful protest, the non-confrontational arrest, the soft arrest where you are told to vacate, that is like me lying down in front of a tank – if I am going to block the entire freeway, then I am going to be removed.”


When it comes to policing, both Edge and Dooley said they did not believe the officer in Minneapolis acted according to procedure they teach their departments.

“You DO NOT continually leave your foot or your knee on any part of someone’s body or neck once they have come into compliance,” Edge explained. “Once you have the handcuffs on them, that is not a tactic that is taught.”

Dooley added, “Everything involving that situation is contrary to what we believe in, what we do, what we know in law enforcement, and how we treat people. Treat them with dignity and respect. Once Mr. Floyd was handcuffed, he should have been immediately stood up and had his vital signs checked, because there was some sort of struggle from what I understand. Then, properly placed in the vehicle and led away.

“As far as placing the knee on the neck, not only was that wrong – it was horrific – tragic – and should have never been tolerated. As far as our agency, as well as Ellis County, I am sure those types of tactics are never taught, never encouraged and never trained.”

Both men agreed that it is time to deal with the current situation on an appropriate and professional level. 

“This is a watershed moment in America’s history,” Dooley concluded. “We have had riots before, but we have never had riots to this level across the nation and in multiple cities, and I think it is because this is worse. Rodney King was a horrific incident – he did not lose his life. George Floyd lost his life. This has to cause change, not just in law enforcement but with society in general.”

To see the entire interview with Sheriff Edge and Chief Dooley, visit or go to ECP-TV’s YouTube channel for this and more on the current situation in America.

Ellis County Press

208 S Central St. 
Ferris, TX 75125