UPDATE: The Bill has passed the House of Representatives unanimously on June 6.
Members of Congress are incensed that the right to peaceful protest has been infringed upon in our Nation’s Capital. They are “Condemning the violence against peaceful protesters” insisting that the “the perpetrators to be brought to justice and measures to be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.” They are proclaiming that “the rights to peacefully assemble and freely express one’s views are essential to the fabric of American democracy,” and we cannot disagree.
Their indignation is so intense that they are fast-tracking a bipartisan bill introduced yesterday (H.Res.354) by Rep. Edward Royce (R-CA) and Rep. Eliot Engel (D-NY) through the House Foreign Affairs Committee today, in hopes of a vote by the full House in early June.
Which of the many police crackdowns on peaceful protesters has drawn the ire of lawmakers? Militarized police using excessive force and shooting water cannons to drench Standing Rock Water Protectors with in freezing temperatures? Violent crackdowns on Black Lives Matter protesters in Ferguson and across the country? Mass arrests and felony charges against protesters on inauguration day in DC?
And here is your clue: the bill is being considered by the House Foreign Affairs committee. These august members of Congress are not concerned about actions U.S. police forces take against their own citizens… the incident at issue is the attack by Turkish security forces on protesters outside the Turkish Ambassador’s residence on May 16. That attack should be condemned, the rights of those protesters upheld, and the perpetrators of violence should be held accountable.
We just wish our members of Congress held our own police to these same standards.
It’s ‘funny’ too, how the bill declares that “the United States should take steps to strengthen freedoms for the press and civil society in countries such as Turkey, and combat efforts by foreign leaders to suppress free and peaceful protest in their own countries,” considering how our own war on whistleblowers and press freedoms has paved the way for a global crackdown on press freedoms, even in “countries such as Turkey.”
Senator Markey (D-MA) has introduced a companion (identical) bill in the Senate, S.Res. 180.