We need your help to fight an anti-protest bill currently awaiting action in the Arizona Senate. The bill (HB2007) would impose harsh penalties on protesters — even those engaged in absolutely legal, peaceful protests — who wear masks or disguises.
The bill is a direct attack on the right to anonymous speech.
Why is anonymous speech so important?
In 1956, the Supreme court explained:
Inviolability of privacy in group association may in many circumstances be indispensable to preservation of freedom of association, particularly where a group espouses dissident beliefs.
[NAACP vs. Alabama]
In 1995, the Supreme Court elaborated:
Anonymity is a shield from the tyranny of the majority. . . . It thus exemplifies the purpose behind the Bill of Rights and of the First Amendment in particular: to protect unpopular individuals from retaliation . . . at the hand of an intolerant society.
[McIntyre v. Ohio Elections Commission]
Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, James Madison, and Thomas Paine understood that anonymous speech is vitally important to democracy. We now know that Hamilton, Jay, and Madison authored the Federalist papers (which defended the Constitution), and Paine wrote Common Sense. But at the time, their work was anonymous.
There are lots of reasons a person may want to speak out without divulging their identity. And in an age of mass street-level surveillance that includes nearly ubiquitous security cameras, police body cameras, and even aerial surveillance, it’s nearly impossible to go about one’s daily life without being identified and potentially, tracked.
Our privacy and anonymity is being eroded daily, but it’s essential.
Especially when one is in the streets speaking truth to power.
Thanks for standing up and speaking out!
Here is a summary of the bill, prepared by our colleagues at the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law:
HB 2007: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity
Would make it a felony to wear any kind of disguise at a protest. The prefiled bill broadly prohibits disguises, “whether partial or complete,” that an individual wears at a protest, political event, or any other public event in order “to evade or escape discovery, recognition or identification.” The bill allows for two exceptions when disguises are allowable: If worn for “a business-related purpose,” or if worn at a time or place “where a disguise may generally be viewed as part of acceptable attire.” Under the bill, police have authority to detain any individual wearing a disguise in order to verify his or her identity and determine if the person has committed a crime. Violation of the disguise ban is a Class 6 felony, subject to one year in prison. However, it is heightened to a Class 2 felony, subject to five years in prison, if the disguise “has direct or indirect involvement” in property damage or personal injury. (See full text of bill here)