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.”
Valve-turner Ken Ward will be allowed to explain to a jury why his civil disobedience was necessary.
President Trump’s pledge to issue an executive order that would deny federal research funds to colleges and universities that do not “support free speech” is a dangerous solution to a largely nonexistent problem.
A coalition* of free expression advocates are alarmed to learn that an 11-year old student was arrested after exercising his lawful protest in Polk County, Florida.
City Council resolution provides a model for other states fighting similar bills.
ICE officials throw El Paso hunger strikers into solitary confinement after altercation over force-feeding, says attorney
The nine Sikh asylum seekers on hunger strike in the El Paso Service Processing Center (EPSPC) have been thrown into solitary confinement after refusing to be force-fed standing up