It’s common knowledge that there are many issues to the changes, both official and pending, brought on by the beginning of Donald Trump’s presidency. Millions of people protested his inauguration the day after the event. More, smaller protests have occurred since then, as laws and legislatures have been presented and, in some cases, passed. In light of all of this, never was a weapon raised. Never was a single person harmed. The most harmful thing to happen at any of these events was a cleverly worded insult on a sign, depending on how you interpreted the message.
However, not everyone feels this way. Around the start of February this year, word of a new pending bill spread. It went especially viral on Twitter, where a petition against it also could be found. In ten states, Republicans have suggested various ways to criminalize peaceful protest. For example, if this was made official, protesters in Washington could be charged with “economic terrorism.” In Missouri, anyone wearing a hood at a protest could be accused of concealing a criminal identity. And in North Dakota, drivers could run over and kill attendees without any legal consequences so long as they did it in a negligent manner.
“We’re not trying to restrict people’s right to protest peaceably,”
This statement from Iowa state Senator Jake Chapman is extremely contradictory. Granted, he did go on to say that there were appropriate times and places for protests, but his stance is clear. If the goal isn’t limiting rights, then what is it? Peaceful protests are exactly that: peaceful. If there are no threats or violence – and at a peaceful protest, there shouldn’t be – then there’s no real problem.
“What all of these bills have in common is they may be dressed up as being about obstruction or public safety, but make no mistake about it: These are about suppressing protests with draconian penalties so that the average person would think twice before getting out on the street and making their voice heard.”
Alternatively, Lee Rowland, an attorney at the ACLU, seems to have said what most of us are thinking. She also said that she’s never before seen an attempt to stifle protesters of this magnitude.
This isn’t only an attempt to “crack down” on protests, this is an attempt to limit our constitutional rights.
“Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.” –Legal Information Institute
We have the right to vote for the leaders of our country, to work toward our dreams, to spend our free time as we please. All of those are innocent rights, and so is the right to peaceful protest. So why is it in danger?