Activist Tree Gigante, in a panel discussion on the First Amendment, discussed both the right and the duty to protest.

Two events in Floyd this weekend shared a central concern: A focused assault on freedoms that are supposed to be guaranteed in the Constitution’s First Amendment.

On Saturday, a large crowd gathered at the Eco-Center on Franklin Pike for “A Celebration of The First Amendment” that honored essays, poems and songs by youth and adults, heard from law enforcement officials, activists and a member of the press to denounce both current and longstanding assaults on the amendment that is supposed to protest free speech, freedom of the press, the right to protest and the right to challenge the government.

A fiery speech by Bill Kovarik, former newspaperman, author and journalism professor at Radford University, brought cheers and applause when he identified himself as one called an “enemy of the people” by President Donald Trump but declared the press as a friend who defends the people.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Eric Branscom provided a historical perspective when a offered a story about a President and political party that sought to stifle free speech, stop a free press and punish those who disagreed and then revealed he was talking about John Adams and the Federalist Party in 1794.

Panel discussions focused on freedoms, protests and religion and awards went out to youth and adults for essays, poems and songs about the need for and threats against the First Amendment.

On Friday, Former Congressman Tom Perriello, whose campaign ousted anti-Muslim bigot Virgil Goode from the House of Representatives in 2008, brought his campaign for governor to Dogtown Roadhouse to discuss, among other things, what he called the racist threat by Trump.

Before an enthusiastic crowd, he promised to draw the line against any action tried by Trump against the citizens of Virginia.

More details and photos of both in the next edition of The Floyd Press.

Journalism Professor Bill Kovarik talked with a public radio interviewer at the First Amendment Celebration.
Applause after presentation of an essay on the First Amendment.
A large crowd listens to discussions of the First Amendment.
Former Congressman Tom Perriello speaking at Dogtown Roadhouse.

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