Debunked: Republican Lawmakers In 8 States Propose Bills To Criminalize Peaceful Protest
With the election of Donald Trump as president of the United States, the amount of lies and fake news washing over every aspect of the internet is absolutely amazing. Like a tidal wave of tears from his opposition, Fake News outlets everywhere seem emboldened to push the Fake News envelope, thinking they are just preaching to the choir and nobody will bother to look into their claims of outrageousness and blatant fear mongering.
Spencer Woodman of The Intercept is no exception. Woodman is well known to publish exaggerated liberal articles in order to drive viewers to his websites. His latest article: LAWMAKERS IN EIGHT STATES HAVE PROPOSED LAWS CRIMINALIZING PEACEFUL PROTEST is no exception. He had published a similar fake news article a few days earlier blaming Republicans for the “Laws Against Peaceful Protest”: REPUBLICAN LAWMAKERS IN FIVE STATES PROPOSE BILLS TO CRIMINALIZE PEACEFUL PROTEST and apparently that wasn’t good enough so he wrote a better one without using the word “Republican” and adding 3 more laws to exaggerate about. Screen shots of both articles can be found below.
So what is the TRUTH?
FALSE CLAIM #1: “In North Dakota, for instance, Republicans introduced a bill last week that would allow motorists to run over and kill any protester obstructing a highway as long as a driver does so accidentally.”
TRUTH: HOUSE BILL NO. 1203 has nothing to do with making peaceful protesting a criminal offense and everything to do with releasing the liability of any driver (not just republicans) who accidentally hits a pedestrian blocking a roadway. Numerous innocent people have died because the roads were blocked to emergency vehicles during the violent Black Lives Matter protests and the violent “Not My President” protests. This law makes it a crime to take someones life or liberty by blocking a roadway. Peaceful protesting is still allowed on sidewalks and on the shoulders of roads.
FALSE CLAIM #2: “In Minnesota, a bill introduced by Republicans last week seeks to dramatically stiffen fines for freeway protests and would allow prosecutors to seek a full year of jail time for protesters blocking a highway.”
TRUTH: Again, this bill has nothing to do with making peaceful protests a criminal offense. Taking away a citizens Right to free travel, kidnapping, holding them hostage, and blocking the path to emergency vehicles would now be a crime. The protestors are still free to peacefully protest on sidewalks and shoulders of the roadways.
FALSE CLAIM #3: “Republicans in Washington state have proposed a plan to reclassify as a felony civil disobedience protests that are deemed “economic terrorism.””
TRUTH: Nothing in the proposed “Preventing Economic Terrorism Act” in any way impacts a person’s right to protest peacefully. The bill creates a new crime called “economic terrorism.” It criminalizes illegal protests that are NOT peaceful and which cause vandalism and economic damage. It also targets the unlawful disruption of transportation and commerce. In other words, don’t take away a fellow citizens right to free travel, don’t destroy their property, don’t prevent emergency vehicles from helping those in need and you won’t get in trouble
FALSE CLAIM #4: “Republicans in Michigan introduced and then last month shelved an anti-picketing law that would increase penalties against protestors and would make it easier for businesses to sue individual protestors for their actions.”
TRUTH: This links to a “Detroit Free Press” article and not the alleged “criminal protesting bill.” The bill that failed to pass the democrat controlled legislature of Michigan would have protected businesses from protesters who are restricting access to places of business and destroying other peoples property. In other words, once again, it has nothing to do with making peaceful protests illegal. Don’t take away a fellow citizens right to free travel, don’t destroy their property, don’t prevent emergency vehicles from helping those in need and you won’t get in trouble.
FALSE CLAIM #5: “in Iowa a Republican lawmaker has pledged to introduce legislation to crack down on highway protests.”
TRUTH: This bill called the “Suck it up Buttercup” Bill, would target state universities that use taxpayer dollars to fund election-related sit-ins and grief counseling above and beyond what is normally available to students. Those that do would be subject to a budget cut for double the amount they spend on such activities. It also would establish new criminal penalties for protesters who shut down highways, like those who briefly closed Interstate Highway 80 in Iowa City during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump. So, don’t make citizens who don’t believe in your politics pay for your political grief counseling and don’t take away a fellow citizens right to free travel, don’t destroy their property, don’t prevent emergency vehicles from helping those in need and you won’t get in trouble.
TRUTH: The language of the Bill: “Traffic obstruction by protestors. Defines “mass trafficobstruction” and “responsible public official”. Requires a responsiblepublic official to, not later than 15 minutes after the responsible publicofficial learns of a mass traffic obstruction, dispatch all available lawenforcement personnel with instructions to clear the roads of personsunlawfully obstructing vehicular traffic.” Nowhere in the bill is the term “any means necessary” which shows this is a blatant attempt at fear mongering. Don’t take away a fellow citizens right to free travel, don’t destroy their property, don’t prevent emergency vehicles from helping those in need and you won’t get in trouble.
FALSE CLAIM #7: “In Colorado, Republican state Sen. Jerry Sonnenberg has introduced a bill that would greatly increase penalties for environmental protesters. Under the proposed law, obstructing or tampering with oil and gas equipment would be reclassified from a misdemeanor to a “class 6” felony, a category of crime that reportedly can be punished by up to 18 months behind bars and a fine of up to $100,000.”
TRUTH: This bill has nothing to do with protesting and everything to to with criminally destroying someone elses’ property. There is already a current crime of tampering with equipment associated with oil or gas gathering operations. The bill includes placing another at risk of death or serious bodily injury as part of the crime and increases the penalty from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony. Don’t destroy their property, and you have nothing to worry about.
FALSE CLAIM #8: “In Virginia, state lawmakers are considering an anti-protesting law that is apparently broader in scope. A bill pending in the state’s Senate would dramatically increase penalties for people who engage in an “unlawful assembly” after “having been lawfully warned to disperse.””
TRUTH: The bill reads; “Every person, except the owner or lessee of the premises, his family and nonrioting guests, and public officers and persons assisting them, who remains at the place of any riot or unlawful assembly after having been lawfully warned to disperse,
shall be is guilty of a Class 3 1 misdemeanor.” As any clear thinking human can see, this bill also has nothing to do with making peaceful protests illegal. If you don’t disperse from a violent riot, yes but violent riots are not peaceful protests.
As you can see, the author of this Fake News, Spencer Woodman, is really against any law aimed at curbing violent protests, and protestors who riot, block freedom of travel, destroy property and force innocent humans to suffer and die because emergency vehicles are blocked from saving their lives.