As Trump Takes Power, Politicians Around The US Move To Make Protesting Illegal

protesting illegal anti mediaBy Sarah Cronin

Indiana passed a bill on Wednesday that authorizes police officers to shut down highway protesting “by any means necessary.” S.B. 285, as it is known, obliges a public official to dispatch all available officers within 15 minutes of discovering any assembly of 10 or more people who are obstructing vehicle traffic.

The bill then authorizes the responding officers to clear roads “by any means necessary.”

Critics are calling it the “Block Traffic and You Die” bill, an apt name for a bill that has co-opted the phrase “any means necessary,” used famously in speech delivered by Malcolm X during the Civil Rights movement, turning it into a threat against government dissent (with no apparent awareness of the irony).

S.B. 285 is among a collection of increasingly hostile ‘anti-obstruction’ laws that have been quietly submitted in states around the nation over the past few months. A report by The Intercept published Wednesday tracked five such anti-protest laws introduced by Republican lawmakers in different states, four of which are currently pending.

One of the most disturbing among them is House Bill N. 1203, a bill introduced earlier this month by North Dakota lawmaker Keith Kempenich in response to the Dakota Access Pipeline Protests. The bill would exempt motorists who hit demonstrators with their cars from any liability in cases where the victims were “obstructing vehicular traffic on a public road, street, or highway.” This twisted take on protest criminalization comes short of condoning manslaughter as a viable means of crowd control.

Also this month, Minnesota State Representative Kathy Lohmer led the effort on submitting H.F. 322, a bill that would re-classify obstructing highway traffic from a misdemeanor to a “gross misdemeanor” and would authorize government units to sue protesters for “public safety response costs related to unlawful assemblies.”

The proposed legislation is strikingly reminiscent of Washington State Senator Eric Ericksen’s proposal to punish protesters as ‘economic terrorists,’ which Anti-Media first reported on in November.

All of the proposed laws share a common trait in that they were all adopted in response to a major protest event in that state. H.F. 322 was submitted shortly after a judge dismissed the riot charges against protesters who took to the St. Paul Interstate last July in a demonstration against the police shooting of Philando Castille. Ericksen’s “economic terrorism” bill announcement came just days after anti-fracking protesters blocked railroad tracks in Olympia, Washington. DAPL protests inspired both the Indiana and North Dakota bills.

These retroactive responses on behalf of Republican state lawmakers are also seen as preemptive strikes against the threat of increased protests during the Trump presidency.

As ACLU staff attorney Lee Rowland expressed in an interview with The Intercept, these so-called ‘obstruction bills’ are but thinly disguised efforts to squash any government dissent.

“A law that would allow the state to charge a protester $10,000 for stepping in the wrong place, or encourage a driver to get away with manslaughter because the victim was protesting, is about one thing: chilling protest,” Rowland said.

Growing tension between government officials and protesters is expected to come to a culmination on Inauguration Day in D.C., where there will already be many barriers in place to limit demonstrations.

First and foremost is the Federal Grounds and Buildings Improvement Act of 2011, known as H.R 347.

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H.R.-347 is a revision of a 1971 federal trespassing law that made it a crime to “willfully and knowingly” remain in an area under Secret Security protection. H.R. 347 removes the word “willingly,” a legal technicality that effectively lowers the bar on the mental state required to be found guilty under the law.

As explained by the American Civil Liberties Union:

Under the original language of the law, you had to act ‘willfully and knowingly’ when committing the crime. In short, you had to know your conduct was illegal. Under H.R. 347, you will simply need to act ‘knowingly,’ which here would mean that you know you’re in a restricted area, but not necessarily that you’re committing a crime.

Under current federal law, protesting in proximity to an elected official under the protection of the Secret Service, which includes President Trump, is a crime punishable by fine and up to ten years in jail.

Protesting during Trump’s inauguration comes with additional complications as the National Park Service reserves a large portion of the inaugural parade route along Pennsylvania Ave and in Freedom Plaza for ticket sales under the exclusive discretion of Trump’s Presidential Inaugural Committee (PIC). This means the PIC can refuse to allow protesters along the route.

An activist group called Act Now to Stop War and End Racism (Answer) has been engaged in a  legal battle with the National Park Service since 2005, arguing the privatization of the Inauguration is an attempt to “sanitize” the streets of dissent.

While the National Park Service has been controversially setting aside tickets for the PIC since 1980, the issue garnered more attention this year when it was discovered that the sidewalk in front of the Trump International Hotel, a significant site for protesters, would be a part of PIC’s ticket-only area.

Adding another level of bureaucracy, the Washington Post reported the hotel and plaza in front are actually under the control of Trump’s real estate agency, meaning protesters would have to literally ‘ask permission’ to remain in the space.

As the week comes to an end, it becomes apparent that dissent is being criminalized not only nationwide but on multiple fronts. Increased regulations are appearing that limit the public spaces that can be lawfully occupied in protest. Meanwhile, legislation is also being introduced to increase the negative consequences for newly unlawful protests. Should more states follow suit with Indiana, demonstrators will soon find themselves paradoxically protesting for their right to protest at all.

This article (As Trump Takes Power, Politicians Around the US Move to Make Protesting Illegal) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Sarah Cronin and theAntiMedia.org. Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article to edits@theantimedia.org.

  • Reggin Mudd

    Force will be met with MORE force. Good luck stopping it…

    • Libs R Loons

      Been out of jail long?

  • Patrick Wise

    Promote drug use with the “media”, then create a war on drugs.

    Use explosives to bring down the WTC, then create a war on “terror”.
    Hire protesters, then make it illegal to protest, hmmm…

    • eddysachs

      ye olde Hegelian Dialect sorcery in action ….its been working for them for centuries.

      • gomurr

        Sorry, Eddy, just saw your comment. Just said the same thing.

        • eddysachs

          Gr8 minds think alike (lol)

      • Patrick Wise

        bingo

      • Brett

        100% true …deal with it LIBTARDS

    • gomurr

      Hegelian Dialect: Problem, Reaction, Solution.

    • Yvonne Forsman

      Sorors hired protesters. The US government makes it illegal to protest on highways. Two different entities. If I kill someone but you are accused of the murder and go to prison, you wouldn’t be okay with it, would you? So don’t mix apples and pears! Re WTC towers I agree with you.

      • Patrick Wise

        My belief is, we live in a dictatorship. The rich and powerful rule the world(i.e. the folks the U.S. Gov owes trillions to). They write up the “laws”, and the puppet politicians run em thru the system. To illustrate the point, consider NAFTA. The government didn’t sit down and say “let’s ship a bunch of jobs to Mexico, and gut our tax base.” NAFTA was rammed thru by the rich and powerful, to benefit same.

  • Val Valerian

    Observations: The urge to stop apparent irrationality and chaos is a logical result of the sequence of events. Arresting Soros (and by implication his son) under the existing international arrest warrant that Interpol has, would be a good start to cutting funding for ill-conceived post election chaos caused by irrational people that have been duped into adopting a belief system fabricated by factions who are used to a fixed reality that is self-serving, that lost the last election. Everyone has complained for decades on how the self-serving ‘establishment’ and the military industrial complex has thrown the population under the bus for 50 years, yet when some kind of significant (inevitable) change to that fixed reality comes along, those who value the past and are stuck in an experiential loop find that all they can do is rile up the less intelligent in the population under fabricated rationale using no objective thought processes in an attempt to halt the progress of a destiny which has been in the cards for some time. There’s a spectrum of individual maturity and experience out there, and on the low end are those with no self-control and maturity who just want a group-mind consensus based on the reactive fabrication … something which ironically suppresses the very individuality they themselves would move into once they lost the existential angst which makes them cling to each other …. everyone has to begin somewhere, and the current events reflect this period of time which reflects the predictable changes, given historical variables. In the end, it’s experience itself which is important, because that’s the whole point of why we’re here. On this level of reality, this is the kind of experiences we have. What we do with that experience later remains to be seen. Meanwhile, find some solace in the historical fact that consensus opinion is usually wrong.

    • TomToasty

      HAHAHA don’t count on hysterical snowflakes to have one mustard seed of understanding of that missive.

    • See Janus

      I have discovered over the course of decades of protesting that protesters are often the harbingers of an understanding that will come to the majority down the road. By 1976, 70% of Americans surveyed said the Viet Nam conflict was wrong. However, look at the harm caused to Viet Nam conflict protesters before Society woke up! Most of the most despicable police brutality I personally witnessed was perpetrated against Viet Nam War protesters. I saw gangs of riot gear covered cops attack individuals, breaking their arms and legs and noses and cutting them up and throwing them over small bridges. No cops were ever prosecuted for the violence they inflicted on unarmed members of the public exercising Free Speech. After 9/11, I protested the “official party line” on the NY attacks and found myself ostracized by the Majority all of whom just bought the official explanation and hysteria. The list goes on and on of course, but the point is simple—protesters are misunderstood and targeted when what we know is that a few years later, the views of the protesters become the views of the Majority.

      • Libs R Loons

        Remember that it was the democrat LBJ who ordered the police violence against the Vietnam war protesters…emphasis on “democrat”.

        • See Janus

          Right on, and LBJ escaped total humiliation by conspiring to associate JFK, so he owed the CIA big time.

  • Lawrence Ambrose

    Blocking public roads does not strike me as a rightful form of protest.

    • eddysachs

      Have to agree …ambulance! …fire! …get out of the way!…altho I might back your protest 100%

      • WatchmanofEzekiel33

        That is the line that crosses over into terrorism.

  • coldtoon

    Welp this marks the end of being peaceful no?

  • TomToasty

    Ahhhh sweet sound of satisfaction as Law and Order is once again being restored. All the Pussyies are now doing what they should have done over a year ago. Obstruct a public roadway? Arrested. Obstruct, bang on cars, terrorize occupants, rip occupants out and beat them? – get a beat down and arrested for a very long time. Set fire to anything in a public street or trespass on private property? Break windows out of businesses and cars? – ARRESTED. I only see a sea of roses here!

    • See Janus

      One more pathetic male with ED.

  • See Janus

    Free Speech has been demonized for as long as the public has protested, and these latest laws are “over the top” as violent. What is crystal clear is that our so called Leadership are working hand in glove with those who are invested in a Fascist Police State. The same abusive leadership stand by and do nothing to make the lives of most children worth living. I am very pleased with the Women’s Marches taking place over the past few days. While I believe the speeches dumping on Trump miss the mark, the fact that women are finally turning out to participate in Society for the first time in 35 years is heartening. I guess it took closing Planned Parenthood to get women today to show any interest in the world around them. The public needs to demand a say in what is decided. The public needs to demand a say in how their lives are organized and smothered. The Public needs to elect politicians who answer to the Public and are held accountable.

  • WatchmanofEzekiel33

    When you protest there is no need for violence or destruction of public or private property because at that moment you cease to be a citizen and have crossed the line into becoming a terrorist.

    • arielmonserrat

      Simple peaceful protest is PROTECTED BY OUR CONSTITUTION. Indeed, one could say it is encourged, as the Constitution gives us the right to redress our grievances with the govt. People have a right to peaceful protest, it’s in our Constitution and has been for almost 2.5 centuries. I learned this in school in about 5th or 6th grade – why don’t you know this! Your stance is anti-democratic and UNAMERICAN.
      Shame on you for not knowing your own basic rights, no wonder we’re losing them here in the U.S.

      • WatchmanofEzekiel33

        Read my post one more time before you reply. I do not condone violent vandalizing type protesting but do agree with peaceful protesting only. Reading comprehension. It will take you a long way in life. No wonder why we have lost 3 generations. They cannot read.

      • Niko

        You are like a horse that wears blinders. Stupid is as stupid does.

  • Derek

    So, you’re saying that protesters have the right to block public roads?

    Also, “Under current federal law, protesting in proximity to an elected official under the protection of the Secret Service, which includes President Trump, is a crime punishable by fine and up to ten years in jail.”

    Who signed this bill into law, and when?

    • vladilyich

      That was either Clinton or Bush, I don’t remember 100%.

      • Derek

        It was Obama, now to be applied to his own agitators-in-arms.

        Sweet. Irony.

  • Koi Roy

    The exercise of one’s rights should not impinge upon the rights of another. Violation of law is a crime. Inducing fear, apprehension and anxiety into the public at large is terrorism. If you’re going to impede access to a business or an area that should be accessible by the public, you should obtain the proper permit to do so. Traffic can then be detoured to allow law abiding citizens as little inconvenience as possible. Threatening the well-being, safety or life of a citizen on a public right of way or thoroughfare should be met with the force reasonably necessary to eliminate that threat. To every action there is a reaction. Please don’t tread on me.

    • See Janus

      Get a life. We sure don’t need more zombies like you.

      • Koi Roy

        -passenger-bus-downtown-train-how-police-handle-them-has-crowd-cheering/?utm_campaign=ods&utm_content=protesters&utm_medium=owned&utm_source=facebook&utm_term=ijamerica

      • Koi Roy

        Get a life… me a zombie? I don’t live to put my two cents in on anything and everything. Perhaps you should have a qualifier at the beginning of YOUR comment sections: “Those not Mensa members or a studier of current liberal academia, or at least those not sharing my opinion on ALL subjects, which is the ONLY correct take, need not comment here… go find your own damned comment section, zombie!”.
        ‘Ave a g’day, and don’t pop a vessel in that brainpan gramps!

  • vladilyich

    I read joy from the conservatives here. There is never an excuse for violent protest, but true peaceful protest is necessary and guaranteed by the Constitution.

    You can imagine what will be the outcome when (there’s no “if” any more) some city, county or state invokes a 100% BAN on firearms and protest has also been made illegal.

    The sword is double edged.

    The Bundy protests also come to mind as well as the one in the Northwest where the protesters took over a park for several weeks.

    • Derek

      Agreed, and I commend the Bundy protest. I just don’t have a problem with making it illegal to block public roads during a protest.

  • gomurr

    I’m all for the right to PEACEFULLY protest, but your rights as a protester end when they impede my rights to go about my daily business. Blocking highways and roads is dangerous for all concerned, and especially so for emergency vehicles trying to get somewhere in a hurry. I’m not saying mow them down, but it should not be allowed. Period. Protesters also have no right to interfere with people trying to do business by blocking the entrance, otherwise preventing people from entering, etc. If you must march in the street, obtain a permit so the road can be blocked off and alternate routes used.

    • See Janus

      Sure, you, like zombies, follow the fascist police state. Shall we hope you never feel compelled to get someone’s attention or protest injustice that (of course) only personally affects you. Get a life.

      • gomurr

        Sorry, bud…..been there, done that. If you think your protest means you have the right to interfere with the lives of other people and destroy property, etc., you the one following the fascist/globalist agenda. Kid yourself into believing that this is a grassroots movement against social injustice if you want. This is a socially engineered movement, the basis of which has been to stir up as much division between groups of people along “identity” lines as possible. Probably 99% of the groups participating receive funding, either directly or indirectly, through George Soros’ organizations like Open Society foundation. It is no more grassroots than the Arab Spring or Occupy Wall Street. the goal is a totalitarian OWG. So, whine and protest all you want. At the end of the day you will still be a brainwashed cog in the wheel of the globalists whose goal is the destruction of this country. You’ve been duped, and when you finally get that equality? It will be in the form of all people enslaved to a world dictator. So, go for it, but it you think your comrades need a safe space now, be prepared to stock up on pampers.

        • See Janus

          There’s no Equal Rights in the US, as you should know. Women don’t have the same Constitutionally protected rights as men. The ERA was never timely ratified, and women politicians like California’s two Senators and Hilary Clinton have refused to work to get the ERA properly ratified. As I said, women haven’t been seen to march about women’s rights for 35 years. Since half of humans are generally “female”, why would females have less rights than men, and no right over their own bodies? NO man would accept the rules and restrictions and laws imposed against women. When women were finally allowed to vote after 1920 (19th Amendment), there were plenty of women who refused to do so, liking their servitude. This is not about “identity”. This is about fundamental rights and getting the attention of the rest of the country so that reasonable changes are made. Sometimes, protests needs to get people’s attention. In a world where there is little in the way of manners, I appreciate all the kvetching about not being inconvenienced, but you really aren’t as important as you’ve led yourself to believe. I don’t need a “safe space”, and I’m celebrating the demise of the Clinton Crime Family. Your total lack of empathy, kindness and compassion are exactly why the US is a 3rd world country. You’ve been duped.

  • Libs R Loons

    Everyone has the right to peaceably protest without breaking the laws. I https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1bf7b2f486c17d8543a1adb9da2a3d2e781c3184aa30d69e86dbe1504b4df26b.jpg f you block businesses, roadways, etc, you ARE breakage the law. By most state laws, if you deliberately blocking a roadway you’re literally taking your life in your own hands.

  • See Janus

    Wish this fellow could have gotten to the point sooner, however, it is beyond doubt the “clever” manner of the fascist police state to make itself necessary. Know all about it, my man.

  • See Janus

    And now you see how the robot driven cars and robot massaged life is so very appealing to so many who have no patience to make the human life work for all, and no willingness to share. The masses were dumbed down to make them passive, and they will be shoved aside so as not to inconvenience all of the self important serfs.

  • See Janus

    American women do not have equality under the Law. End of Story. The ERA was not timely ratified. None of the sitting women politicians were willing to root for getting the ERA fully ratified 5 years ago when we tried to get Florida and North Carolina to fully concur. The only rights that women in America have that men have is the right to vote in national elections. 19th Amendment. Otherwise, women have none of the rest of the rights men have. Women of color have far more rights than White women, as a matter of law. The EEOC only protects the rights of women of color who are discriminated. Same with housing. It’s sad to me that you wouldn’t know any of this. Supreme Court justices have repeatedly commented on this disparity. And, for your information, I started spending lots of time in 3rd World Countries in the 1960s which commitment continued through 2002. Have you?

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