Following the Women’s March on Washington, where millions of people in cities across the country demonstrated against President Donald Trump, news broke that republican legislators have proposed a series of bills to criminalize peaceful protests.
According to Cosmopolitan, a bill in North Dakota would allow motorists to hit and kill protestors blocking the highway "as long as [the] driver does so accidentally," while another bill in Minnesota would make obstructing a highway a "gross misdemeanor" that is punishable by a fine of $3,000 and up to a year behind bars.
If this doesn’t feel right to you, it’s because it’s not. These proposals go directly against the first amendment, which states that, "Congress shall make no law respecting ... the right of the people peaceably to assemble."
The proposals seem to be a response to people of color-led demonstrations, like anti-police protests organized by Black Lives Matter and indigenous-led actions against the Dakota Access Pipeline. White-led marches, much like last weekend’s women’s march, are more respected, even receiving a nod of approval from the new president – after his initial criticisms, of course.
Peaceful protests are a hallmark of our democracy. Even if I don't always agree, I recognize the rights of people to express their views.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 22, 2017
Race-centered protests, however, aren’t as respected, with demonstrators labeled “rioters” or “looters.”
Even more, Trump has declared that he’d have a “law and order administration." According to the new White House website, one of the administration's biggest issues will be Standing Up For Our Law Enforcement Community” and their belief that it is not their “job… to make life more comfortable for the rioter.”
In short: It’s going to be a difficult four years, y’all.