This week’s picture is from the demonstrations of January 21st. More about this later.
I made it to the gym every day this past week. Felt good! The weather was very nice and the gym was wide open a couple of times. I love working out in natural light with fresh air. I also ate well. So, do you think I made any progress on the scale?? Of course not!! Oh, well. All I can do is keep at it. Yesterday I bought lots of salad and protein for our dinners this coming week. Well, see….
I have posted this demonstration photo because our right to peaceful assembly is under serious attack. I have read from more than one reputable source (we’re talking real news like WashPo and the NYT – not fly by night fake sources) that several states are considering laws to allow the arrest of peaceful protesters in large gatherings, even if nothing violent has happened, simply because the enforcement officials think something might happen. Some of the laws include fining the organizers as well as seizing their assets. Look up the proposed law in Arizona for an explanation of the expansion of racketeering statutes. The reports I read said all these bills are sponsored by Republicans. Figures.
First, let me say that some of the bills are taking steps to prevent protesters from blocking highways. I agree with this. I never liked the blocking of major highways. City streets, when a gathering has all the required permits and is traveling along the correct route, are a different matter. They can be blocked in that case. But, I’ve never agreed with those who simply take it upon themselves to stream across something like an interstate, a beltway, or other main artery. If the highway was not part of your planned route, stay the hell off of it.
That being said, there are a lot of problems with these bills. First and foremost, aren’t they unconstitutional? I thought we are guaranteed the right to peacefully assemble. I’m sure the ACLU will tackle that at some point.
I read the Arizona bill. At first glance it seems that an actual violent act is needed to trigger the expanded racketeering provisions, but you have to look closer. The problem is in their definition of “riot”. It says, paraphrased, that 3 or more people either disturb the public peace or injure someone or damage property. So, does that mean that if a cop, or the administration of the city, or someone else, does not like what the protesters stand for that they can complain that the peace is disturbed and have all the protesters arrested? Does it mean that if you disagree with a protest you can have the organizers’ homes and other assets seized? The sponsors would probably answer “no”, but if that is the case, please show me what you have in the law that prevents such action.
Another problem is that everything this bill is trying to prevent is already against the law through other statutes. It is against the law to deliberately injure another; to deliberately damage or destroy another’s property. Why use a different law to criminalize that which is already criminalized? The only reason I can see is that the Republicans want to quash the opposition’s ability to protest, and if the opposition protests anyway, then the Republicans want to be sure their government profits from it – the seizing of organizers’ assets.
Now imagine this. Anti-SCROTUS protesters are marching legally and peacefully. A few people who have nothing to do with the group staging the protest infiltrate the march. One of the interlopers intentionally breaks a car window or shoves a police officer. Someone decides this constitutes a “riot” and takes it out on the legal group, arresting everyone and ruining the organizers’ lives. The infiltrators may have been SCROTUS supporters, or, they may have been anarchists, but they had nothing to do with the group marching. The whole thing is a set-up.
So far, no one has shown, and I did not see in the bill I read, anything that accounts for finding the truth in this type of situation. This leads to a broad interpretation in enforcement that can only be a desire on the Republicans’ part to suppress the opposition’s desire to demonstrate. Someone MUST challenge these laws in court.
Looks like it is time to have the ACLU on speed dial.
Until next week….