Action Alert: Updates on Anti-Protest Legislation

The NLG recently shared an analysis of the wave of anti-protest legislation brought forward by Republican lawmakers in multiple states since the end of 2016. As of now, we have seen 29 bills introduced in 20 states. When we include anti-BDS bills in the anti-protest legislation wave, it doubles the number (16 enacted already, with bills in at least 10 states introduced for 2017). The sheer number of bills designed to limit protests and punish protesters and organizers is unprecedented.

Since writing the first analysis, several of these bills have become law. In North Dakota, legislation has been passed that increases punishment for criminal trespass activities, prohibits wearing masks and hoods, and increases penalties for “rioting.” In South Dakota, a bill was passed to curtail protest activities on public lands and restrict protests that interfere with highway traffic. These successful bills set a dangerous precedent while so many others are still under consideration across the country.

More bills are close to being passed in the following states: Arkansas (SB550), Georgia (SB160), North Dakota (HB1193). Now is the time for public pressure, media attention, and opposition from advocates of the right to dissent. The NLG, ACLU, Amnesty International, and many other civil liberties groups are strongly opposed to the passage of these bills. Human rights experts from the United Nations also “call on lawmakers in the United States to stop the ‘alarming’ trend of ‘undemocratic’ anti-protest bills designed to criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression.”

Please join us in resisting this attempt by Republicans to limit protest activity. For those who live in the states affected, please follow these bills closely, offer public comments, write media op-eds, hold educational meetings, and organize protests in your area. As we have seen from the multiple bills that have already failed, public pressure is very effective!

For those interested in following and resisting this legislation, here are two excellent resources for tracking the bills by state:

The Voice Project: Right to Protest

International Center for Non-profit Law US Protest Law Tracker

Photo by Quinn Norton from Excellent Question (SFO Muslim Ban Protest) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

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