I’ve written, quoted and shared petitions from Color of Change many times here. Today we’ll listen to their statements about anti-protest laws being passed all over the country. Apparently criminalizing Black voting just doesn’t go far enough; obviously Black voices need to be criminalized, too.
Criminalizing protest was always going to be the next step on the fascist/conservative agenda. First, members of the Bush-Cheney war criminal cabal avoided exposure to protests at their public appearances by designating “First Amendment zones.” People could protest there – and only there – safely away from the possibility of crossing into any executive branch criminal’s line of sight or earshot.
Bu that just didn’t go far enough for the fascists and conservatives. Why would they stop there? It’s not like there was a concerted media push to expose “First Amendment zones” for the (very likely unconstitutional) sham that they were, much less any appetite to sue the administration and consequently lose precious access to Big Willies in the government and military throwing glamorous parties and running exciting wars. Since no one stopped them at the point of “First Amendment zones,” OF COURSE they’re going farther and outlawing protest outright.
This should teach us all something important about what really scares powerful public officials and America’s owners, whom they so ably serve. Which, in turn, illustrates why we so badly need more, bigger and louder protest movements.
Nationwide general strike, anyone?
Iris, our right to protest is under threat.
It’s been nearly two years since millions of people around the world took to the streets in historic numbers for what became the longest, largest, and most sustained movement to stand up for Black lives.1Our persistent, loud, and clear voices, as well as organizing efforts were instrumental in obtaining a modicum of accountability for George Floyd.
Since then there have been over 100 anti-protest bills proposed across the country! Thirteen of those bills have been passed,2 and in 2022 already, several bills have been newly introduced or re-introduced.3
Some of the anti-protest laws proposed and passed actually grant immunity to drivers who run into protesters with their cars or use force against a protester like how Kyle Rittenhouse did!
But Iris, we cannot be stopped and we cannot be silenced. From the March on Washington to the Black Lives Matter movement, protest is an essential tool for our freedom and we will fight to protect it.
Iris, these laws, often backed by organizations affiliated with police unions, are an attempt to criminalize free speech, punish those who speak up for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and offer specific protections for counter-protesters who harm us.4 In fact, police unions have advocated for anti-protest bills in 14 states, and bills proposed in at least 9 states include sponsorship from current or former law enforcement officers.5
Here’s just a sampling of some of what we’re up against:
- Several laws include provisions that would strip people of public benefits, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment benefits, if they are convicted.6 These laws are trying to punish people by taking away their ability to feed and house their families!
- A Tennessee law would make it a felony for demonstrators to camp at the state Capitol. The result? People would lose their right to vote.7
- In Florida, Oklahoma, and Iowa, laws grant immunity to drivers who run into protesters with their cars.8
- A proposed bill in Indiana would ban anyone who was convicted from getting a state job or running for elected office.9
- And laws in states like Georgia include provisions that would create civil immunity for a “volunteer” who uses or threatens to use force against a protester.
Iris, the Department of Justice has the power to make an impact by condemning these laws and supporting legal and advocacy efforts to fight them.
It’s time we break the cycle of silencing and criminalization by demanding the Department of Justice fight for our right to protest.
Until Justice is Real,
Scott, Rashad, Arisha, Malachi, Megan, Ernie, Palika, Ariel, Madison, Trevor, Erick, Ana, Kristiana, McKayla and the Color Of Change team
1. Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in US History (PAYWALLED): https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/07/03/us/george-floyd-protests-crowd-size.html
3. US Protest Law Tracker: https://www.icnl.org/usprotestlawtracker/
4. It’s not just voting: Legislators have introduced 100 state bills targeting protesting (PAYWALLED): https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/2021/05/13/its-not-just-voting-legislators-have-introduced-100-state-bills-targeting-protesting/
5. New anti-protest laws cast a long shadow on First Amendment rights: https://publicintegrity.org/politics/new-anti-protest-laws-cast-a-long-shadow-on-first-amendment-rights/
6. Minn. lawmaker proposes revoking convicted protesters’ student loans, food stamps: https://www.nbcnews.com/politics/politics-news/minn-lawmaker-proposes-revoking-convicted-protesters-student-loans-food-stamps-n1264549
7. Tennessee legislature cracks down on protesters, making it a felony to camp overnight outside Capitol: https://www.tennessean.com/story/news/politics/2020/08/12/tennessee-passes-law-targeting-protesters-makes-capitol-camping-felony/3354879001/
Just FYI, here are some other stories I could have written about today:
Washington Post, Breaking News email alert:
Last year investors bought nearly 1 in 7 homes sold in America’s top metropolitan areas, the most in at least two decades. An analysis of 40 major metro areas reveals unequal levels of investor activity, with Southern cities and Black neighborhoods disproportionately affected.
New York Times: New York Today email newsletter:
Ignored by the media and pushed aside by the police, families and supporters of Black women are building their own missing persons operations online.
New York Daily News online edition:
A proposed merger of two Manhattan elementary schools with sharply differing student demographics and enrollment numbers is stirring up debate over race, gentrification and education in the East Village.
Day 1 of Black History Month 2022 (Lori Teresa Yearwood) is here.
Day 2 (Mallence Bart-Williams) is here.
Day 3 (Emmett Till) is here.
Day 4 (A Tale of Two Citizens) is here.
Day 5 (Trayvon Martin) is here.
Day 6 (Franchesca Ramsey) is here.
Day 7 (National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day and the Black Aids Institute) is here.
Day 8 (extreme racial disparities in marijuana arrests) is here.
Day 9 (Summer of Soul/1969 Harlem Cultural Festival) is here.
Day 10 (current and historic racist domestic terrorism, Steve Phillips/Democracy in Color) is here.
Day 11 (Gee’s Bend Quilters) is here.
Day 12 (egregious anti-Black (& anti LGBTQ+) behavior at a NY State high school is here.
Day 13 (Erin Jackson, 1st Black woman to win Olympic gold medal in speedskating) is here.
Day 14 (Stevie Wonder’s Innervisions) is here.
Day 15 (racial inequities in spiking vehicle death rates during the pandemic compound and are compounded by other racial inequities, and The New York Times buries the lede) is here.