Missourians! Take action now to help us defeat a bill in the Missouri General Assembly that would crackdown on protests near pipelines and other energy infrastructure.
Defending Rights & Dissent is working with a coalition of Missouri civil liberties and environmental organizations to fight SB 293. The bill would impose big fines and jail time on protesters who “impede or inhibit” operations at energy infrastructure sites, or who simply trespass. The bill also goes after civil society groups that organize rallies and protests, holding them liable for the actions of anyone at their events with fines of up to $100,000, in an effort to scare them away from hosting large protests, or to bankrupt them if they do.
The St Louis Post-Dispatch has come out strongly against the bill in an editorial on April 4 warning that
“…lawmakers should remember that their first responsibility is to the U.S. Constitution, not Big Oil or other energy interests that are trying to tamp down criticism.”St. Louis Post-Dispatch editorial
The bill is an affront to the First Amendment, but it also sets back the bipartisan effort in Missouri to stop filling up jails with non-violent offenders. The bill undermines criminal justice reform by imposing jail time for simple trespass into “critical infrastructure” sites, which includes an array of places from railroad tracks to water towers to any freight facility, as well as pipelines and refineries and more. The bill sets the stage for deleterious unintended consequences for youth caught tagging a freight car or crossing a rail yard.
Late last month, we sent a coalition letter to members of the Missouri General Assembly, signed by 17 state and national civil society groups, including Greenpeace, Food and Water Watch and the Center for Constitutional Rights, as well as the Missouri chapters of the ACLU and Sierra Club.
We are fighting similar bills in states across the midwest and south. We think we have a good chance to stop it in Missiouri, so please take action now, and share this post with friends, family, and others who care about the Constitution and/or the environment!
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Editorial: Missouri bill aims to silence environmentalists. It could silence farmers, too.
Springfield News-Leader: Springfield senator’s model bill on ‘critical infrastructure’ riles environmental groups