The First Amendment protects Americans’ freedom of speech and assembly. Unfortunately, at various times in US history, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies have disregarded these protections, targeting people or groups based on political viewpoint, religious affiliation, or participation in lawful protests. The advent of the internet as the new “town square,” has opened a new front in the battle to protect free speech and assembly, and new technologies make it easier for the government to track our communications and movements both on and offline, inhibiting our willingness to dissent.
Undercover agents have infiltrated law-abiding activist groups, police have beaten and tear-gassed protesters at peaceful protests, and people are considered suspect merely because of their real or perceived Islamic faith. On the internet, police and intelligence agencies monitor social media and speech that should be protected by the First Amendment is considered evidence of “material support for terrorism.”
Dissent is being criminalized by DHS Terror Threat Assessments that name environmentalists, practicing Muslims or people with Ron Paul bumper stickers as potential terrorists, by legislation that conflates activism with terrorism (as in the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act), and by over-policing at protests and restrictive “free speech zones.”
On September 27 at 7 pm eastern/4 Pacific, join the nation’s only coalition dedicated to fighting back against anti-protest legislation at our next webinar, about bills aimed at protests at fossil fuel pipelines.
The fact that they were introduced is troublesome and dangerous. It is through protest, an essential part of American life,that we are given the abilityto speak out and challenge events and injustices. That power should be protected, not infringed upon, so that it can continue to shape and influence our American polity.
The National Park Service wants to start charging fees to hold protests on the National Mall as part of a new set of regulations the agency is proposing. They are also eyeing new restrictions on several public sidewalks in DC overseen by the Park Service, including in front of the White House and in front of the Trump hotel.
Trump’s Department of Education Is Trying to Turn Support for Palestine Into A Civil Rights Violation
Kenneth Marcus, Trump’s choice to head the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Right (OCR), is moving forward with perverting civil rights law to silence student activism he opposes: advocacy for Palestine and Palestinian human rights.
State Bureau of Investigation unit prepared “threat assessment” of Atlantic Coast Pipeline protestors
The state’s surveillance and counter-terrorism unit, the Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAAC), warned law enforcement officials that the Atlantic Coast Pipeline could attract “violent extremists” who are opposed to the natural gas project in North Carolina, a document obtained by Policy Watch shows.