19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

WASHINGTON, April 8, 2017—United Nations human rights experts are publicly calling on U.S. lawmakers to halt the trend of anti-protest bills that have sprung up in no fewer than 19 states since the election of Donald Trump.

“Since January 2017, a number of undemocratic bills have been proposed in state legislatures with the purpose or effect of criminalizing peaceful protests,” said Maina Kiai and David Kaye, two UN human rights experts.

“The bills, if enacted into law, would severely infringe upon the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in ways that are incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law and with First Amendment protections. The trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech.”

The bills have been introduced by Republican state legislators in 19 states and are in various stages of the legislative process.

Following is a list of bills that threaten citizens’ rights to peaceful protest, their legislative status and their state government sponsors.

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

 

Arkansas

 AR SB550: Amends the Arkansas code to prohibit “unlawful mass picketing,” makes it a class A misdemeanor and imposes a civil fine of $1000/day.

 Sponsor(s): Sen. Trent Garner (R), Rep. Bob Ballinger (R), Rep. Kim Hammer (R)


Arizona

SB 1142: Amends existing laws to allow prosecution of protesters under the state laws that combat racketeering. Allows police to seize the assets of an individual involved in a violent protest.

Sponsor(s): Sen. Sonny Borrelli (R), Rep. Steve Montenegro (R), Sen. Steve Smith (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

 


Colorado

SB 17-035: Toughens penalties for “tampering” with oil and gas equipment from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony.

Sponsor(s):  Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg (R), Rep. Jon Becker (R)

 

UN Warns Right to Peaceful Protest Threatened Under Trump

Florida

SB 1096Criminalizes obstruction of traffic by protesters and exempts motorists from liability in certain cases where they strike and injure or kill a protester.

Sponsor(s):  Sen. George Gainer (R)


Georgia

SB 160: “Back the Badge Act of 2017” Toughens penalties for blocking roadways, sidewalks, “or other public passage.”

Sponsor(s): Sen Tyler Herper (R), Sen. David Shafer (R), Sen. Jeff Mullins (R), Sen. Greg Kirk (R), Sen. Bill Cowsert (R), Sen. Steve Gooch (R), Sen. John Albers (R), Sen. Butch Miller (R), Sen. David Shafer (R), Sen. Michael Williams (R)

UN Warns Right to Peaceful Protest Threatened Under Trump

Indiana

SB 285: The first version of the bill allowed police to remove protesters from highways by “any means necessary.” Softened version now allows for the issuance of fines for these acts.

Sponsor(s):  Sen. Jim Tornes (R), Sen. Anday Zay (R), Sen. John Crane (R), Rep. Bruce Borders (R)

 

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Iowa

SF 111Makes intentionally blocking of highways by protestors a felony punishable with up to 5 years in prison.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Bobby Kaufmann (R)

 

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Michigan

HB 4643: Increases fines for “mass picketing” and blocking of entrances and roadways; makes it easier for a court to shut down a demonstration.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Gary Glenn(R), Rep. Amanda Price (R), Rep. Michael McCready (R), Rep. Joseph Graves (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Minnesota

HF 322: Makes it possible to charge protesters the costs of protests.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Nick Zerwas (R), Rep. Tony Cornish (R), Rep. Cal Bahr (R), Rep. Dan Fabian (R), Rep. Kurt Daudt (R), Rep. Dave Baker (R), Rep. Jim Nash (R), Rep. Steve Drazkowski (R), Rep. Joe McDonald (R), Rep. Cindy Pugh (R), Rep.Marion O’Neill (R), Rep. Brian Johnson (R), Rep. Mark Uglem (R), Rep. Linda Runbeck(R), Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R), Rep. Tim Miller (R), Rep. Tama Theis (R), Rep. Mary Franson (R), Rep. Jadson Rarick (R), Rep. Bob Dettmer (R), Rep. Matt Dean (R), Rep. Eric Lucero (R), Rep. Bud Nornes (R), Rep. Bob Loonan (R), Rep. Abigail Whelan (R), Rep. Matt Grossell (R), Rep. Jim Newberger (R), Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

HF 390: Increases fines for protestors obstructing traffic.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Nick Zerwas (R), Rep. Tony Cornish (R),  Rep. Mary Franson (R), Rep. Dan Fabian (R), Rep. Kurt Daudt (R), Rep. Jim Nash (R),  Rep. Joe McDonald (R), Rep.Marion O’Neill (R), Rep. Brian Johnson (R), Rep. Mark Uglem (R), Rep. Kathy Lohmer (R), Rep. Tim Miller (R),  Rep. Matt Dean (R), Rep. Eric Lucero (R), Rep. Matt Grossell (R), Rep. Jim Newberger (R), Rep. Josh Heintzeman (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Missouri

HB 179: Bans protesters from using masks, face coverings, robes, or other disguises, making it a misdemeanor.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Don Hill (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

 


Mississippi

SB 2730: Makes protesters obstructing traffic a felony punishable by 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Sponsor(s): Sen. Angela Burks Hill (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest


North Carolina

H 249: Toughens penalties for protesting, creates the criminal offense of “economic terrorism” and increases penalties for protesters if they block traffic.

Sponsor(s): Rep. John A Torbett (R), Rep. John M Blust (R), Rep. Justin P Burr (R), Rep. Jay Adams (R), Rep. Mike Clampitt (R), Rep. George G Cleveland (R), Rep. Kevin Corbin (R), Rep. John Faircloth (R), Rep. Carl Ford (R), Rep. Pat B Hurley (R), Rep. Frank Iler (R), Rep. Bert Jones (R), Rep. Allen McNeill (R), Rep. Larry W. Potts (R), Rep. Michele D. Presnell (R), Rep. Larry C. Strickland (R), Rep. Harry Warren

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

North Dakota

HB 1203: Exempts a motorist from liability in the unintentional injury or death of an individual obstructing traffic.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Kempenich (R), Rep. Brandenburg (R), Rep. Laning (R), Rep. Oliver (R), Rep. Rohr (R), Sen. Cook (R), Sen. Schaible (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

HB 1426: Toughens penalties for protesters.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Todd Porter (R), Rep. Keith Kempenich (R), Rep. Karen M. Rohr (R), Rep. Jim Schmidt (R), Rep. Donald Schaible

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Oklahoma

HB 1123Toughens penalties for protesters trespassing on areas with “critical infrastructure” like railways and pipelines.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Scott Biggs (R), Rep. Brice Marlatt (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Oregon

SB 540: Requires community colleges and public universities expel students convicted of the crime of riot.

Sponsor(s): Sen. Kim Thatcher (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

South Dakota

SB 176: Restricts use of public land by protesters and toughens penalties for blocking highways.

Sponsor(s): Senate State Affairs Committee

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Tennessee

SB 944: Gives civil immunity to a driver who injures a protester blocking traffic.

Sponsor(s): Rep. Matthew Hill (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Virginia

SB 1055: Criminalizes remaining in a public or private space after being ordered to disperse.

Sponsor(s): Sen. Patron (R), Sen. Stuart (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

Washington

SB 5009: Creates new crime of “economic terrorism” where protests intended to cause economic harm are criminalized. Penalizes the disruption of commerce and transportation.

Sponsor(s): Sen. Doug Ericksen (R), Sen. Tim Sheldon (R)

19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

 

Featured image: Molly Adams, Flickr Creative Commons

 

 

 

Images courtesy of Laura Sesana | Arbiter News and 19 States are Threatening Citizens’ Right to Peaceful Protest

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