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Where Protests Flourish, Anti-Protest Bills Follow


Where Protests Flourish, Anti-Protest Bills Follow

Lee Rowland, Vera Eidelman

Over the past year, a historic level of activism and protest has spilled out into our nation’s parks, streets, and sidewalks — places where our First Amendment rights are at their height. The January 21 Women’s March, anchored in D.C. with echoes across the nation, was likely the single largest day of protest in American history.


Looks like the ACLU is going to have its work cut out for it under the Trump administration. Whoo-boy! I bet at some point he will try to abolish it.


Shutting down grassroots protests is high on the list of Trump's priorities in addition to discrediting the courts and the press. We can expect harsher punishment of non-violent civil disobedience. And laws to make life easier for the police. The Trump agenda needs to instill fear to succeed in gaining full control of the country. It will certainly be a busy year for the ACLU. People should donate what they can to organizations that are primed to take Trump to court.


Masks not allowed "or in a group on private property?" The Feds are going to tell me, a property owner, who can wear a mask when they are on my PRIVATE PROPERTY???? This is the most heinous assault on my rights as a citizen. Who's property is it? The govt would have me believe I cannot have a mascaurade ball and have a protest on my property at the same time? We must PERSIST!


Yes, these new laws challenging our rights to protest are certainly deplorable. But it can be a lot worse than an "inconvenience" when "robust protests block streets." If you're in an ambulance heading for the hospital, are you going to agree that "driving isn’t a right — it’s a privilege?" I can think of many more situations in which passable roads are vital. Besides, causing unnecessary inconvenience to motorists is hardly an effective means of winning hearts and minds.

There are many other ways to make a point. Let's follow the examples of past nonviolent campaigns and expand the range of actions to consider, whether they're legal or illegal, to make sure that no harm is done and that our causes are served by them. Blocking traffic for a few minutes until you're arrested looks childish and desperate. Can't we think of more principled (and, yes, dignified) ways to express ourselves? What would Gandhi do?


Why don't you research how many ambulances and fire trucks have been held up because of people protesting in the streets in the last 10 years and get back to us all here at Common Dreams? We all would be very interested in your findings.

And, when you do return, give us some recommendations on how better we can protest non-violently and exercise our First Amendment Right.


"Legislators in North Dakota introduced a cascade of bills that would allow drivers to run over protesters obstructing a highway, as long as the drivers did so accidentally; "

"the sponsor of the North Dakota “motorist” bill claims the bill is required to protect the “legal exercise of [the] right to drive.”"

Consciously or not on the part of the right, talking about a "right to drive" seems like a radical departure from what I learned, and what works for society--that driving is a privilege.

I think of the macho reaction and rolling coal; I think of the thousand pieces of evidence showing increasing extremism, even psychosis, on the right. Faced with an increasingly dire climate crisis, establishing any kind of precedent for a right to drive--a right to use fossil fuels to express the need for power--could make it much harder to make emergency changes about fuel use, especially in the extremely privatized and primitive world of transport. For civilization to survive we're going to have to make some big changes in the right and ability of people to use energy. Many people--among them some of the more reactive and violence-prone in the US--are going to hate that; it plays into some of the bizarre conspiracy theories about science and government that inevitably accompany climate denial. Their anger is yet another challenge we face as we move into a period of needing massive peaceful citizen action to avoid catastrophe.