As progressives turn to mass protest to push back against the oppressive policies of the Trump administration, Republican lawmakers are doing what they can to silence protestors. States are imposing harsher penalties on demonstrators who block traffic, and protecting motorists that unintentionally harm them.
Here are the states that have introduced bills restricting public demonstrations (caps indicate outrage):
- North Dakota–Shields drivers from liability if they hit a protestor that injures or KILLS THEM with their car.
- Indiana—Gives police the freedom to use “any means necessary” to clear roads
- Iowa—Makes blocking traffic a FELONY on certain roads, meaning offenders could face up to 5 years in prison and a $7,500 fine.
- Minnesota—Punishes protestors who obstruct traffic with up to a year in jail and a $3,000 fine, and would allow police to sue protestors to cover the costs of law enforcement.
- Virginia—Imprisons protestors who fail to disperse (Note: this bill was one of FOUR that lawmakers tried to pass in Virginia, all of which failed on the Virginia Senate floor).
These laws are making exercising some of our most cherished democratic rights illegal for…making your commute longer?
This is INSANITY. Protests are, by definition, disruptive. That is literally the point.
“Legislators are supposed to honor the will of the people, not criminalize it.” -Lee Rowland, ACLU. Thank you Lee.
Here’s what you can do:
First, sign ACLU petitions in states where this is happening. North Dakota, for example has one.
Second, if you’re going to protest in ANY state, know your rights. I CANNOT stress this enough.
Third—you guessed it—call your state and local representatives. Express your outrage over these policies, and make it clear that these kinds of policies will not be tolerated if they are introduced in your state legislature.
Demonstration is one of the most powerful and sacred rights of free speech we have, and it’s not one I’m willing to give up without a fight.