The Nation Marched While Driggs Whimpered On The Side Walk And Trampled On The First Amendment by Greg Geffner
On the day of the Women’s March in January I was charged with two crimes when arriving at the cross road of two possible directions. At the intersection on Main St., in Driggs, while marchers were directed to turn right onto the sidewalk I decided to go left and march in the middle of Main Street and encouraged others to join me, while none did. A march, like every other Women’s March that day, occurred in the street, not whimpering on down the side walk where no one would know what was going on. My conscience did not permit to simply walk on the sidewalk, not giving the attention to the protest it required because of the imminent threat to our country by a madman who is in control of the Whitehouse. It would have been embarrassing and shameful, to have compromised my political beliefs and my right to engage in political protest if I had conformed with the rest of the crowd on the side walk. Our most traditional and sacred public forum for protest is taking to the street and marching. Especially when the urgency and peril brought on by the current administration's intent is to erode our democracy and destroy hard-fought environmental protections for the climate. An unstable president with his finger on the nuclear trigger, who is committed to eliminating health care for millions of Americans, is an admitted rapist and a racist and liar and who is disgracing our great nation made it clear that a more immediate message was needed other then a stroll down the sidewalk.
      Our first amendment right to freedom of speech within the historical context of Rosa Parks, The Boston Tea Party to the March on Selma, to any other number of protests, and the ultimate sacrifice of many veterans for all of us to have this freedom, security and public forum gives us the responsibility to express our opinions in this way. Social and political progress has been made when the people take to the streets, exercise their First Amendment right to contest the status quo. As citizens we have an obligation to speak truth to power, to reach out and engage our community in active political discourse, and not simply huddle together on a crowded sidewalk and whimper amongst ourselves. Our nation was conceived and founded on this premise and if ignored these rights will perish. So Inspired by the courage of the brave men and woman who followed their conscience and refused to quietly accept injustices, it would be the least that I could do, to march down the middle of Main St.      
  While traffic continued around me, my decision to march alone wasn't taken lightly because of my concern that a person who disagreed with my views might choose to intentionally run me over. When I arrived in front of the Driggs City Center the walkers congregated as I took up a spot in the crosswalk, best positioned to convey my message without violating any traffic laws or endangering anyone's safety, when a truck drove past honking, and stopped to threaten me. In response, I told the driver that, “When you have to resort to violence, it means you have a complete lack of ideas,” enraging him as he jumped out and physically attacked me. I blocked his punches, refusing to retreat, never taking offensive action. Other protesters attempted to calm and restrain the man, who proceeded to punch numerous people in the face. Since the protest was about ideas and changing minds, I had a commitment to peacefully demonstrating and fighting would only have detracted from my political message.

Even though at no time did I engage in any conduct that was tumultuous or offensive, I later found out, that instead of investigating the crime that I was the victim of, Teton County Sheriff's department was seeking my arrest for engaging in the political protest, charging me with disturbing the peace and obstructing a highway. When we went to trial this August, a chilling precedent to all Idahoans was set, because surprisingly, the court refused to allow any mention of the reason why I was protesting, trampling on the 1st Amendment and shredding the constitution, leaving two guilty verdicts on both charges. While the judge commended my non violent behavior, he and the state's attorney were both surprised that a guilty verdict came in for disturbing the peace. All told this was a sobering warning about how the state is trying to intimidate it's citizens, preventing them from peacefully protesting and how, we as Americans are all entitled to certain rights and freedoms ONLY if we have the resolve to continue to fight for them! An appeal is pending.