ACTION CALL #2: Protesting For Our Communities — Resistance Under Attack

Photo: Marie Louise Meewah

From Black Lives Matter to Standing Rock demonstrations, protest is undeniably the fundamental tool of resistance. But as protesting tactics heat up, Republican lawmakers across the U.S. continue their hostile efforts to disenfranchise activists and target social justice movements. This year alone, twenty state legislatures have introduced bills seeking to criminalize protests. Such measures are in direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, Dakota Access Pipeline activism, and multiple anti-Trump protests.

States are moving quickly to limit the right to protest, a tried-and-true tactic of chilling free speech and dissent. So far, lawmakers have proposed bills that (1) increase fines and jail sentences for protesting (Minnesota, Washington, Indiana, Florida, Iowa, Colorado, Oklahoma, Missouri, Virginia), (2) remove liability from drivers who “accidentally” hit and kill protesters (Tennessee, Florida), (3) allowlaw enforcement to shut down mass traffic obstructions “by any means necessary” (Indiana), (4) label protests as “economic terrorism” (Washington, North Carolina), (5) charge costs of policing to protesters and organizers (Minnesota), (6) allow businesses to sue individual protesters (Michigan, Colorado), (7) use anti-racketeering laws to seize assets of protesters (Arizona), and (8) require public community colleges to expel students convicted of participating in a “violent riot” (Oregon). The United Nations issued an ominous report, calling these bills an “alarming and undemocratic” trend.

Resistance is under attack because dissent is powerful and leads to change. Protesting tactics get results. And even when protests don’t succeed in effecting immediate change, they provide activist blueprints and hope for future generations. It’s imperative that we continue to resist and fight for our right to do so.

Below are some actions you can take to support resistance efforts and take a stand against anti-protest laws.

ACTIONS

Support the Movement

Fight Anti-Protest Legislation

  • Check openstates.org to stay current and read their manual on how to resist oppressive legislation in your state.
  • Check the list of states below with pending anti-protest bills and call your representative. You can also use Resistbot to turn your text messages into a FAX sent directly to your representative. Bookmark Facebook’s Town Hall to find, follow, and contact your representatives.
  • Arizona — uses anti-racketeering laws to seize assets of protesters
  • Colorado — makes it a felony to tamper with or trespass on infrastructure like pipelines
  • Colorado — allows businesses to sue individuals that protesting against them
  • Florida — increases fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic
  • Florida — removes liability from drivers who “accidentally” hit and kill protesters
  • Indiana — supports law enforcement to respond to a mass traffic obstruction
  • Indiana — increases fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic
  • Iowa — increases fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic
  • Michigan — allows businesses to sue individuals that protesting against them
  • Minnesota — increases fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic
  • Minnesota — charges costs of policing to protesters and organizers
  • Missouri — makes it illegal for protesters to wear face masks
  • North Carolina — labels protests as “economic terrorism”
  • Oklahoma — makes it a felony to tamper with or trespass on infrastructure like pipelines
  • Oregon — expels community college students convicted of participating in a “violent riot”
  • Tennessee — removes liability from drivers who “accidentally” hit and kill protesters
  • Virginia — makes it a misdemeanor to refuse to leave an “unlawful protest”
  • Washington — increases fines and jail sentences for protesters obstructing traffic
  • Washington — labels protests as “economic terrorism”

Script for calling your representative: I am a constituent of Rep. ______ and I am calling to voice my opposition to [Bill Name]. The First Amendment protects our right to assembly and free speech. [Bill Name] infringes on those rights and I am asking that Rep. _______ oppose this legislation and/or move for its withdrawal. Thank you.

DONATIONS

Fight for Civil Rights

  • Support our future lawyers, law students, and legal workers that are progressive, anti-racist, and fighting for human rights. The National Lawyers Guild’s (NLG) Mass Defense Committee (MDC) is a network that provides legal support for political activists and protesters for social justice . Read more here and donate to the MDC.
  • Civil Rights organizations do important legislative work in protecting our constitutional and human rights, such as protesting and free speech.. However, the legal field has a significant diversity problem. With leadership positions being largely white (male) dominated, finding attorneys of color that lead civil rights organizations is a challenge. This needs to change. We need more more people of color in the legal profession to lead the fight for civil rights. Please support The United People of Color Caucus of the National Lawyers Guild and donate to TUPOCC here.

Support Future Leadership

  • Support youth leadership. The Black Youth Project 100 (BYP100) mission is to train, advocate, organize, and educate for justice. Their current campaign seeks to end the criminalization of youth and expand the narrative of youth and police interactions by collecting videos of encounters (send videos to byp100videos@gmail.com). BYP100 is a national organization with local chapters, a Black Queer feminist intersectionality, and collective work ideology. Donate to BYP100 here.
  • Support regional anti-racist and social justice causes. Southerners On New Ground (SONG) works on leadership development, intersectional analysis, and organizing to sustain and support and build capacity for marginalized communities and Southern Queer People of Color. SONG membership is for anyone that wants to help break the cycle of violence. Read more and join SONG as a member. Donate to SONG here.