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.”
Two bills making their way through the state legislature target protests, and are part of the wave of anti-protest bills we’ve been fighting across the country since 2016. In Wisconsin, anti-pipeline protesters and student protesters are being singled out for draconian penalties.
Leaked FBI Memo Conjures Threat of Armed Conflict From Anarchist Groups Fighting for Immigrant Rights
The FBI is monitoring groups protesting U.S. border and immigration policies and considers them violent threats despite providing little evidence to support that claim.
Civil Society Leaders Demand Action After Revelations of FBI JTTF Spying on Anti-Pipeline Groups in Oregon
Leaders from international, national, and local organizations call on Governor Kate Brown to stop surveillance of communities opposing the Jordan Cove LNG export project.
2 Indian asylum seekers were deported, one on his 63rd day of hunger strike; 2 men remain on hunger strike, 68 days
‘Outrageous Behavior’ as Boston Judge Holds National Lawyers Guild Attorney in Contempt for Reading Case Law in Court
“All I was trying to do is to read the law to the court, and I was summarily arrested, handcuffed, brought down to the holding cell, held there for hours,” said Church.