Friday, March 10, 2017

Creeping Totalitarianism

The current round of legislation -- introduced by Republican lawmakers in 19 states -- attempts to criminalize and penalize protesting in various ways. 
Many states are drafting bills to increase fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic (MinnesotaWashingtonSouth DakotaIndianaFloridaMississippiIowa), tampering with or trespassing on infrastructure such as railways and pipelines (ColoradoOklahoma), picketing (MichiganArkansas), wearing masks (Missouri), or refusing to leave an "unlawful protest" (Virginia). Particularly alarming are bills removing liability from drivers who "accidentally" hit and kill protesters (North DakotaTennesseeFlorida). A bill in Indiana initially instructed police to clear protesters from highways by "any means necessary." 
Other legislation has proposed labeling protests as "economic terrorism" (WashingtonNorth Carolina), charging costs of policing to protesters and organizers (Minnesota), allowing businesses to sue individuals protesting them (MichiganColorado), and using anti-racketeering laws to seize assets of protesters (Arizona). A bill in Oregon would require public community colleges to expel students convicted of participating in a "violent riot."

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