People hold placards reading "Gambia made its choice, save democracy in Gambia, save the new Gambia" during a protest in support of Gambia by Senegalese NGOs and civil rights groups in Dakar on December 17, 2017.
Longtime Gambian leader Yahya Jammeh, who initially conceded defeat in a December 1 presidential poll, has lodged a Supreme Court case to challenge the result, despite pressure from the international community for him to cede power peacefully. The opposition in the small West African country, however, fears Jammeh will use a judicial system -- considered by experts to lack independence -- to give legitimacy to his attempt to hang on to power. / AFP / SEYLLOU        (Photo credit should read SEYLLOU/AFP/Getty Images)

The right to protest: Is it not cool anymore?

I went to a protest both in Washington, DC and in London. The Gambians living in and around those areas were extended the right to freely protest against their then president, Yahya Jammeh.

For the DC protest, Jammeh was there for a meeting, and for the London protest, it was on his July 22rd anniversary.

I am not sure how many of the Gambians who attended the protests were American or British citizens, but they were all free to protest – and protest they did. Ken wahut len anything!

At the two protests I attended and others that were held in New York and other cities around the world, I saw some of the same people who are now having issues with the idea of a peaceful protest in the Gambia. It is the same people, who used to “tobaka dal” at protests and wanted the whole world to see them.

They were so proud to be protesting and enjoying their right to protest in another country. They took photos to post and show the world, and when someone was videotaping the action, they planted themselves front and center di budi ndey ak banendiro budut jehh nak.

So to now see the same people vehemently opposing the notion of a peaceful protest in the Gambia and viciously attacking the organizers is perplexing.

I guess protesting in not cool and sexy anymore, but it was hot during the struggle. The videos and the photos all over the place, nitt yee dilen share rek nak. All this was made possible because Gambians were allowed to express their grievances against Jammeh in foreign countries – a right Jammeh denied them, so they became “big bad protest wolves.”

When Trump announced that he was going to put the Dream Act on the chopping block, undocumented immigrants in the United States hit the streets to protest against it in cities across America.

In this particular situation, even the undocumented immigrants were extended the right to protest.

Despite residing in the United States undocumented, it was still their constitutional right to protest, and that right was fully extended to them. But guess what? The “big bad protest wolves” who enjoyed the right to protest against their government in foreign countries are now the voices against those same rights they exercised while performing for the cameras.

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