Republicans thrive on misinformed voters and they strive to divide and to limit the information given to them, but anyone who sees through their tactics of smoke and mirrors or uses their First Amendment right is discouraged with legal consequences.
The following states have introduced legislature that would increase punishments for protesters.
Republican senators defend their legislation as a way to protect the public, but yet the GOP in Iowa proposed legislation for felony charges that carry a possible five years imprisonment to be charged to protesters. To add insult to injury, Republicans in Tennessee filed a bill to give immunity to drivers who hit protesters. How is this protecting the public?
Douglas McAdam, a Stanford sociology professor who studies protest movements, offered some insight into what is simply history repeating itself:
For instance, southern legislatures — especially in the Deep South — responded to the Montgomery Bus Boycott (and the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education) with dozens and dozens of new bills outlawing civil rights groups, limiting the rights of assembly, etc. all in an effort to make civil rights organizing more difficult.”
“Similarly, laws designed to limit or outlaw labor organizing or limit labor rights were common in the late 19th/early 20th century.”
Senior Attorney, Lee Rowland, with the American Civil Liberties Union stated that the main objective by Republicans is:
Increasing the penalties for protest-related activity to the point that it results in self-censorship among protesters who have every intention to obey the law.”
Arizona has a bill that has passed the state Senate by a party-line vote and is now before the house. The bill will open protests to anti-racketeering legislation targeting protesters with the same laws designed to combat crime syndicates.
Indiana offered a similar bill that allowed officers to shut down highway protests using “any means necessary.”
North Carolina Republicans are introducing legislation making it a crime to “threaten, intimidate or retaliate against” current or former state officials.
Washington is considering a bill where the penalties for people blocking highways and railways are to deemed as “economic terrorism.”
While many other states were mentioned, the ones stated above offer the most compelling reasons to be concerned, as the right to protest and assembly is protected by our First Amendment.
The current number of states who have proposed legislation is 18, but it will only be a matter of time before more follow suit.
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