Tactics of Matthew 24
March 6, 2017
Filed under Op-ed
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West Chester University students may have noticed that our campus has recently been a hot spot for protesters. On Thursday, Jan. 26 and Thursday, Feb. 23, the group Matthew 24 spoke on the academic quad.
At both protests was a WCU faculty member who held a sign saying: “They do this for money. Threaten them and they sue. Touch them and they sue.”
With their many tactics, protest groups like Matthew 24 are able to avoid any prosecution and make money from their protests. For many students this is a new occurrence. Some have never seen or heard a protest like this and don’t know how to react. Being informed of the tactics and motives of protesters like those from Matthew 24 will help ensure that our students and university don’t get taken advantage of.
Michael Bicking, chief of police and director of Public Safety, stated, “They get most of their funding from law suits.”
Protesters like Matthew 24 make money when they are denied entry onto public ground or when there is any violence done to them. WCU is a public institution, therefore keeping protesters off campus goes against their First Amendment rights.
When there are speakers on campus, regardless of their message, know that it is essential for our university to allow them to stay in order to uphold the Constitution and avoid any lawsuits. The group Matthew 24 wear cameras on their chests and have an additional member video in order to document anything that happens in the crowd. This makes it easy for them to gather evidence of any violence that could later be used against students in court.
Bicking stated that the videographer at the Thursday, Jan. 26 protest was under 18 and therefore could not be spoken to without a parent.
“These individuals are very well-practiced,” Bicking said.
In situations like these, know that every action you and your peers make are recorded and could possibly be used against you or put on YouTube with other videos from universities in the area. By not participating in any violence or hate, we can ensure that WCU students are presented in a positive light.
Matthew 24 has plans in place in order to stay within their rights. For example, at recent protests, it can be observed that one of the speakers, Pastor Aden, paces back and forth. This is a strategy which is used in order to avoid being accused of verbally harming specific individuals from the crowd. Although at recent protests certain students were directly yelled at by these speakers, their wandering eye contact allows them to be safe from any allegations.
“There’s a purpose to why they move,” explained Bicking.
The topics these religious protest groups speak about is often controversial enough to stir up heavy emotions in the crowd. Their opinions and word choice is offensive to many and is all part of their plan.
“It’s all about the response,” Bicking said.
Also, their goal is to make people so upset that they will do something that can then be used for a lawsuit. This is made easier by another one of their tactics, which is to plant people into the crowd in order to keep students angry.
“They have outliers in the crowd,” said Bicking. “When the crowd gets quiet, they start inciting the crowd up.”
In situations like this, it is difficult to not take what is said to heart. Many students do not believe in what was said at recent protests by Matthew 24 and therefore became upset by it, myself included. At moments like these, it is essential to consider the goals of the group. Chances are they aren’t open to changing their opinions or to constructive conversations about values.
Protesting is something that is valued by the United States and is protected by our Constitution. Some groups are motivated by their message, others are motivated by money.
Protest group Matthew 24 who have visited our campus twice in the past two months have plans in place to maximize any chance of making money. Through tactics such as wandering eye contact and movement, they are able to get around any possible lawsuits that may be started against them. With language that causes anger and ways to keep the crowd lively, they arouse emotions that cause irrational actions such as violence. Cameras then capture any acts of violence which are then used against students and universities for more lawsuits and money.
Bicking stated that a similar group, Repent America, used to come to WCU twice a semester but may have stopped coming once students stopped being affected by their visits. The easiest way to avoid contributing to Matthew 24 or other protest groups is by ignoring them.
Being aware of the law and of the practices of protest groups such as Matthew 24 will help West Chester avoid being taken advantage of and used for money.
Grace Harvey is a first-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at [email protected]