Peacful protests to be illegal?

Once again I saw a post on Facebook linking to an outrageous article. It made wild claims that peaceful protests were going to be made illegal in several states. It linked to the actual bills as I will as we refute the ridiculous claims made in the article.

First is Colorado, a place that has been having major issues as of late with protestors tampering with oil equipment. It is already against the law to do so, the bill simply makes it a harsher crime, from a class 2 misdemeanor to a class 6 felony. It makes it clear in the bill that charging people with trespassing instead is not acceptable. This seems reasonable to me. Many law enforcement agencies just want to address the immediate issue and then get them out the door again. But that does not dissuade the offender from doing it again, or in this case, from encouraging others to do it as well. 

There is nothing saying that you can’t protest against oil companies. It simply increases the penalty for those that would cause damage or potentially hurt or kill someone. This is a good bill through and through. 

Now, in Indiana there is a bill regarding groups of ten or more people obstructing traffic. It is the responsibility of authorities to dispatch all available law enforcement within 15 minutes of learning of the incident to disperse the people blocking traffic. This is a great bill, nothing dangerous here. 

I can’t tell you how happy I was when I finally saw law enforcement stepping up in my local area when protesters were blocking public transit specifically. That, to me, is ridiculous to do in the first place. Most of those using public transit have no other choice, they can’t afford a car. Now a group of people are going to make them late to work, losing more of that limited income. Potentially getting them fired, and don’t try and argue that they could just tell their boss what happened to avoid that consequence since I have seen people let go for less with even better excuses.

Iowa has a two part bill that was discussed last November but as of yet has not been presented from what I could find here. Representative Bobby Kaufmann had made remarks back in November in response to two issues, the way that the local colleges were responding to the grief that some students were experiencing in response to Trump winning the election and secondly how some protesters had blocked I-80 for a half hour. He merely said that colleges should not be using tax dollars to fund grief counseling regarding an election, with this I would agree. If you are unable to handle things not going your way in life you have some bigger issues then Trump being president. I have already addressed blocking traffic, so no need to do so further. If does write a bill regarding these issues in the way it has been discussed I don’t see it being a bad thing or infringing on anyone’s rights.

Michigan now has a bill regarding specifically picketing. It does not make any new laws, it is merely increasing the penalty for existing laws because the writer of the bill feels the current penalties are not deterring the behavior enough. The law makes it illegal to block people from accessing the business. To me that is more than fair. You can show you have an issue, but do not make it to where I can’t choose to do business there if I want to. Then you would be infringing on my rights. 

The other part of the bill makes it to where the business does not have to include the fact that there is a picket in the job ad they put out to replace the picketing employees. I’m not sure how I feel about this part. I feel that some may not want the job if they know it is crossing a picket line. I know growing up that my grandfather was part of a union and when a local grocery store was picketing we did not shop there at that time even though that was where we had always gone before. So, I get that for some that would be an issue and if it is it would be a waste of time to apply for the job, get a call for an interview, show up and see the picket line and then have to go home because of your morals on the issue. Now, should there be a law on this one way or the other? I am still undecided.

Minnesota is merely clarifying existing laws on the matter of blocking highways. It is making it clear that it is not merely against the law, but specifically a misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor depending on the specific act. This may increase the penalty, but is still already against the law there.

Missouri is amending an existing law to make it illegal to conceal your identity if you are also committing the crime of unlawful assembly or rioting. Doesn’t seem to be a bad thing to me. If you are all being peaceful and have your permits lined up if needed, then there is no problem!

North Carolina is a much different story than the rest, and surprisingly was not one of the ones mentioned in the original article. This one gives extremely stiff penalties only if you are protesting politicians… Hmmm. Well, it does say that if they are intimidated or worse, but intimidated is a pretty loose terminology. I think this one would be gong too far. There are already laws that protect them as citizens from harm. We don’t need to make it worse just because they are politicians.

North Dakota has modified their laws regarding pedestrians  on roadways. It is clear you can not intentionally run someone over. It is merely removing liability if someone say, runs out into the road and you do not have a chance to stop or maneuver in time. This to me seems reasonable. These protesters lately have been doing some pretty dumb stuff while blocking highways. They have been threatening and damaging vehicles with the occupants inside. All I know is if I see a protest group trying to block my path, I will not be stopping to allow them to hurt me or my vehicles occupants. If they get hurt in the process of making that bad decision, that is their own fault.

Virginia has made it a stiffer penalty for remaining at a place of unlawful assembly or riot after being warned to leave. It has moved it from a class 3 to a class 1 misdemeanor. Sounds reasonable to me.

Washington state is looking at making a bill regarding “Economic Terrorism.” I like the concept, but it is a slippery slope. I do have an issue as previously stated with blocking people from moving freely and from making a living. It all depends on the exact wording of the law, which does not seem to be written yet. So this one remains to be decided on.

Overall, the article calling for everyone to sign a petition against these bills is misrepresenting itself. I know many that would agree with me that if the way the article was written was also correct, they would be happy to sign the petition. The issue is that it is grossly misrepresenting the facts.

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