The Raleigh Police Department announced on Twitter just now: “Protesting is a non-essential activity.

(You can tell I grabbed this screenshot early; the ratio is still relatively small.)

Here’s why they’re wrong. State or federal, you pick.

North Carolina State Constitution, Article 1, Section 12:

The people have a right to assemble together to consult for their common good, to instruct their representatives, and to apply to the General Assembly for redress of grievances; but secret political societies are dangerous to the liberties of a free people and shall not be tolerated.

First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America:

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.

Specifically listed rights in Constitutions are the very essence of essential

RPD is going to be sued over this, and they’re going to lose in short order. As my colleague Jon Guze aptly put it, if a right is “sufficiently important to merit a specifically enumerated constitutional right, it must certainly be important enough to be classified as an essential activity under any emergency order.”