President-elect Donald Trump has already sparked a great deal of protesting from people who have greatly opposed his racist and regressive policies, before and after he was elected. Though the anti-Trump movement remains strong, there are Republican political leaders, including Trump, who seem to be trying their best to keep his opponents down. One bill proposed by a senator in Washington could have drastic consequences for anyone who wishes to protest the presidency and decisions of Donald Trump.
Senator Doug Erickson, a state senator in Washington, has introduced a bill that will have severe penalties for those who protest. What kind of penalties? In Erickson’s bill, protesters who, in the course of their protesting, “cause an economic disruption” would face jail terms ranging from between 60-days to one year. In other words, exercising your freedom of speech in Washington could send you to prison, if a bill proposed by senator Erickson goes through.
This is a clear example of a legislator trying to send a message through silencing those he disagrees with. There are already laws in place that are meant to deal with protests, such as laws on trespassing. Most importantly, it is clear that Erickon is trying to impose this law because of his support for Trump.
It is not a coincidence that this law is being proposed not long after protests against Trump, in Erickson’s state of Washington and beyond, have erupted. Clearly, Erickson saw what was happening and believed the proper course of action would be to introduce a bill that tries to stifle one’s right to protest through the guise of protecting others. Erickson is not trying to protect the sanctity of those who might be economically impacted by a protest; he’s trying to stop protesting from happening in the first place through fear-mongering tactics.
If Hillary Clinton won the presidential election and protesting was happening on behalf of Trump supporters, we can guarantee that legislators such as Erickson would support the protesters and not dream of introducing any sort of bill such as this. Legislator of this nature is so dangerous because it flies in the face of expected decency for a democracy such as the United States. We must remember that protesting is our right. From the Boston Tea Party to the Civil Rights Movement, Americans have exercised their freedom to protest in the most important chapters of our history. For someone like Erickson, who should be protecting the Constitution, to try and defy it in the name of suppressing those he disagrees with is sickening.
It might only be a law that’s being proposed in Washington. However, there is the possibility of a ripple effect where the success of this bill in one state could lead to copycat bills in others. Soon enough, it could make it to Congress in Washington, D.C. and become federal law. That would be very scary.
It is important that we all stay aware of any attempts to suppress democracy and freedom through bills such as this. It only takes a few people for a terrible law to pass, and the best way to stop that from happening is to let our voices in opposition be heard. No matter how hard they try to impose laws and restrictions on protesting, they can never outright prevent us from speaking our minds. As long as we are united in our opposition against what we know to be wrong, then there is no way that they will be able to stop us. Our country might be divided, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find solidarity to protect our key values.