Been to any rallies or protests lately? Have you participated in any of the myriad marches happening all over the country? Would you still go if it were illegal? Would you go if there was chance you could be locked up for someone else’s inappropriate behavior?
We all know by now how successful the Women’s March was the day after the inauguration. Peaceful rallies and marches occurred on every continent that day, and they haven’t stopped. They’re working. We know this because as we speak, Republican lawmakers are working on methods to criminalize our constitutional right to assemble.
No sooner did Donald Trump take the oath of office when Republican lawmakers in ten states–Minnesota, Washington state, Michigan, Iowa, North Carolina, North Dakota, Colorado, Virginia, and Missouri–proposed legislation outlawing peaceful protest.
It is Arizona, though, where the republican-dominated senate voted to expand racketeering laws designed for organized crime, allowing police to arrest demonstrators and seize their assets.
Senate Bill (SB) 1142 expands the definition of a riot to include any damage to property, allowing arrests when police even suspect a protest will turn violent, even if it will not.
Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, told the Arizona Capital Times:
“This is a total perversion of the RICO [Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations] process, the racketeering process, and I see major Constitutional issues down the line. I don’t think this is going to do anything but get us into more lawsuits.”
Anyone who has been to anti-Trump demonstrations will aver they are peaceful, enjoyable, and respectful of local laws and ordinances. However, the problem is not so much the anti-Trump people as it is anti-protestors present to instigate and incite violence. That’s what makes the news, so that is what viewers see, sullying the anti-Trump movement and fueling these laws.
Sen. John Kavanagh, a Republican, told the Arizona Capitol Times:
“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder. A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists. But this stuff is all planned.”