We will never give up our right to protest. That’s why DRAD is fighting back against bills that attack the right to protest and promoting proactive legislation that protects the right to protest. It’s also why we are engaging in groundbreaking journalism to expose those attacks
The right to protest is under assault. State after state is considering laws designed to chill the right to assemble. These bills include such draconian provisions as holding organizers and protesters criminally liable for the bad acts of third parties or removing legal liability for running over protesters. Other states and even the US Congress are considering bills designed to punish people for engaging in nonviolent boycotts for human rights. And prosecutors are bringing disproportionate charges against protesters with increasing regularity and in some cases using outrageous guilt by association theories to criminalize merely being present at a protest where someone else engages in vandalism.
The right to protest is essential for social change. Opponents of Black Lives Matter, anti-pipeline protests, and other social movements know that. That’s why they are pushing for bills designed to intimidate their opponents.
Anti-Protest Legislation Toolkit
Fighting an anti-protest bill in your state? The Protect Dissent Network is compiling a tool kit of opposition letters, op-eds, talking points, sample action alerts, testimony, articles and other resources developed for previous campaigns. Feel free to use and adapt for your advocacy:
- Critical Infrastructure – bills that increase penalties for protests at pipelines and other “critical infrastructure”
- Right to Boycott – bills that restrict the right to engage in political boycotts
- Campus “Free Speech” – bills that purport to protect free speech on campus, but in fact penalize protest rights
- Face Coverings – bills that criminalize covering one’s face during a protest
- Pay to Protest – bills that charge protest organizers for policing, or for damage caused by third parties
- Links – to articles about the trend of anti-protest legislation
Visit the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law Anti Protest Law Tracker for up-to-date information about bills introduced/laws passed in your state.
Arkansas and Texas aren’t unique in having laws on the books aimed at penalizing supporters of Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) for Palestinian rights. They are among 26 states to have enacted such laws. Arkansas and Texas have also joined another growing subset of states–those who face First Amendment challenges to their anti-BDS laws.
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), is following in Cardin’s footsteps and has announced he will try to get the Anti-Semitism Awareness Act language into the budget. Anti-semitism is deplorable. And people should be aware of it. But this bill isn’t about combating anti-semitism, it’s about perverting federal civil rights law to silence supporters of Palestinian civil rights.
Free expression, free assembly, and free association aren’t just fundamental rights. They are the tools that human rights defenders rely on to fight back against the abuses.
For two years now, we’ve fought to stop the unconstitutional Israel Anti-Boycott Act. And thanks to an outpouring of opposition from individuals like you, this First Amendment violating bill has been stalled. But now the bill’s sponsor, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD), is working behind the scenes to sneak the Israel Anti-Boycott Act into the must-pass end of the year spending bill.