Bill that Criminalizes “Illegal” Protest

Some Republicans are pushing for legislation that makes “illegal” protest a class C felony, a hint at the type of legislation coming in the next few years from the Republican-controlled U.S. Congress. Since felons often lose the right to vote in the United States, and Republicans tend to do better with less voter turnout, it is clear what this is really aimed at: Squashing dissent against corrupt government and attempting to maintain what is often terrible Big Business, Republican control. And peaceful protest is a protected right under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

Washington state Republican Senator Doug Ericksen announced Wednesday plans to introduce a bill that would lead to stricter penalties for those involved with or participating in illegal protests.

Ericksen’s measure would create a class C felony when protests aimed at causing economic disruption jeopardize human life and property. It would not apply in cases of lawful and protected activities, such as strikes and picketing, his office said.

In Ericksen’s measure, the penalties apply not just to participants, but also those who either give money or help organize, or otherwise encourage others to commit “economic terrorism.”

The bill, if passed, would also mean accomplices could be required to pay restitution up to three times the amount of the damage caused.

Jaxon Ravens, chair of the Washington State Democratic Party, blasted the proposal.

“Republican State Senator Doug Ericksen must be auditioning for a role in the Trump Administration,” Ravens said in a statement. “Ericksen’s plan to crack down on our First Amendment rights is straight out of the Trump playbook and has no place in America. We already have laws protecting people’s lives and property. This menacing grandstanding by a Trump loyalist serves no purpose other than to chill dissent and discourage free speech.”