Do you want to hear a scary story? Maybe you don’t, but you should listen to it anyway – because it could become a chilling reality sometime very soon.
Imagine you hear about a protest over an issue you are passionate about. You make signs to illustrate your support/opposition for a particular idea. Maybe you bring a few friends to the protest. Hell, you might even bring your children to show them how true democracy works.
The protest begins fine. You feel empowered, and you feel happy being around people who are passionate and of similar values. Video cameras start to show up. A few people are interviewed. You feel fantastic. This is what democracy is supposed to be all about! …
Suddenly, someone in the distance starts shoving someone. Maybe it was an accident. It might have even been unrelated to the protest. Unfortunately, it is somehow interpreted as an act of aggression. Chaos breaks out a few feet away from you. You think you hear a window smash. You grab your child’s hand and get ready to leave. This is getting too crazy for you. It’s at this point a police officer grabs you and places you under arrest.
Does this sound illegal? You bet. Will it happen? It’s about to in the state of Arizona. Lawmakers there are passing a bill that targets peaceful demonstrators for arrest if they happen to be at a protest that turns violent. This means you can be arrested simply for quietly holding a sign as soon as some knucklehead next to you starts breaking things. Oh, and the bill also allows the police to seize your assets once arrested. That’s right. You could lose access to your checking and savings accounts just by going to that protest march.
The Arizona Capitol Times reported on the forthcoming legislation. They explained how SB1142 essentially expands the racketeering laws in Arizona. Originally aimed at organized crime, this law will now also cover rioting. Just as you could be considered guilty by association if you were hanging out at an illegal poker game run by a mafia boss, you can now face the same consequences by hanging out with rioters.
If this law passes, bad things can happen to anyone who decides to organize or participate in a protest. If the protest turns into a riot, everyone can be held responsible. This is true regardless of the cause of the riot! Terrifyingly, people opposed to the protest can now simply show up and start breaking things to get everyone else in trouble. This is not how democracy is supposed to work!
Democrats are opposed to the new law, but Republicans are committed to pushing it through. Much of the motivation for the law stems from Republicans who believe there are protesters being paid by elites to undermine Republican victories. These Republican politicians hope being able to legally arrest huge numbers of protesters will put an end to these perceived professional protesters.
A law like this will make all sober minded citizens rethink attending a protest. People simply can’t afford to risk losing their savings, their vehicles, their homes, and even their jobs by attending a protest. This is the reason why this law needs to be stopped. The freedom to protest peacefully is one of the great privileges of living in a democracy. People should not be afraid to attend a protest simply because someone else might cause everyone involved to lose everything.
What do you think about this forthcoming legislation? If the law passed, would you still consider attending a protest? Let us know in the comments below!