EUGENE, OR – A Free Palestine rally in Eugene, Ore., was driven into by a masked counter-protestor, who blocked the protest march with his truck and began shooting a splatter gun into the air. He was approached and detained by unarmed protestors and taken into custody.
Masked Counter-Protestor Taken Down After Disrupting Lawful Protest
Pro-Israel and pro-Palestinian demonstrations have broken out all over the world in the wake of hostilities in Gaza, among them a planned Free Palestine march in Eugene, Ore., on Oct 21.
A masked counter-protestor wearing a Guy Fawkes mask and displaying a Gadsden flag on his pickup drove into the route of the march, blocking them with his pickup and emerging armed with a realistic-looking squirt gun, according to DoubleSided Media.
As the march approached the man’s truck, according to the Daily Emerald, two lawfully armed members of the march drew their weapons and detained him. Others in the crowd slashed his tires, preventing him from driving away.
The man, Johnathan Wisbey, was taken into custody by the Eugene Police Department.
During the fracas, a person attending the march was trampled as people fled the scene as Wisbey drove his truck into the parade route and emerged with the toy pistol. The victim suffered a broken leg and was transported to the hospital to receive emergency care.
Wisbey, 51, has been charged with First Degree Menacing, Second Degree Disorderly Conduct, and Bias Crime in the 1st Degree (e.g., a hate crime), which is a felony in the state of Oregon.
Protesters Brought Their A Game
There are a number of good lessons here.
First is that the protestors who approached and drew on Wisbey responded quickly, seemingly appropriately – pictures show him emerging from his truck with a weapon, though it was a toy – by not firing and detaining Wisbey, who could have killed someone driving into a crowd. He was clearly there to terrify people, and they fought back.
The takeaway there is the virtue of a fast, measured response, of being able to react to the situation. They took action but acted with the proper restraint, and in the end, only one person was hurt. Well done.
Second is the value of temperance and reason.
We all have passions, things we feel strongly about, but the temperate, reasonable person doesn’t believe them to be justification for harming anyone.
The conflict in Gaza is terrible. It’s the stuff of nightmares, and the recent history of the region is incredibly complex, to say the least, but by no means does one’s opinion about it justify harming anyone here – half a world away from there – because someone chose a different “side.”
It’s one thing to disagree with your fellows, even vehemently. It’s another entirely to wish them harm or – worse – attempt to inflict harm on them because of it. That’s supposed to be the difference between us and the Taliban; while we all will differ from others in our opinions, beliefs, and so on, that is no excuse to inflict anything upon them.
There is no justification for violence unless in response to or preventing it.
The alleged perpetrator clearly left reason behind and thought he was justified in driving a pickup truck into a protest march (which was otherwise peaceful) and threatening his fellows. There is no excuse for leaving one’s faculties in such a manner and certainly for his actions.
His reward will be a prison cell, and it would appear rightly so.
Temperance and the superiority of rationality and reason over passion are cornerstone Enlightenment values, which are the ideological bedrock the United States was founded on. As a society, we have frequently done a poor job of living up to them. Perhaps we should all strive to do better on that front.
Lastly, and most obviously, such incidents are a risk at politically charged protests. Whether you agree with whatever the position of the protest is or not, it’s inarguable that you have nothing to worry about if you stay home.