Prosecutors and legislators in a number of states have responded to mass protests in opposition to police brutality by charging demonstrators with committing felonies, together with terrorism fees, The Intercept reports. The development of criminalizing protests has been on the uptick for the reason that 2016 protests in opposition to the Dakota Entry pipeline, throughout and after which many states states permitted felony fees for protests “close to important infrastructure.” Since 2016, 14 states have enacted new legal guidelines to limit the fitting to peaceable meeting, says the Worldwide Heart for Not-for-Revenue Legislation. Amid nationwide demonstrations in help of Black lives, many states have elevated the severity of prison penalties for protesters alongside political traces and are prosecuting them extra aggressively, as demonstrations proceed with no signal of slowing down.
Final week, after greater than 60 days of demonstrations outdoors the State Capitol, Tennessee Gov. Invoice Lee signed a regulation that made it a felony to take part in some kinds of protests, together with tenting out in a single day on state property. Prices for a similar exercise had been beforehand misdemeanors. In Tennessee, individuals convicted of felonies lose their voting rights, making the brand new regulation a software for disenfranchisement. This month, police in Muscatine, Ia., apprehended two individuals they are saying had been making an attempt to drive a automobile into the town Public Security Constructing and received caught on a planter. They charged each males with quite a few counts, together with terrorism. Terrorism fees are a “false equivalency between individuals who kill, and individuals who commit acts of property harm,” stated Kate Chatfield of the Justice Collaborative, a bunch centered on criminalization and incarceration. “If you hear our president discuss Black Lives Matter … or antifa as a terrorist group … his assertion holds no weight in regulation, nevertheless it sends a message to prosecutors like this that they’ll be supported,” stated Thomas Harvey of the Development Mission, a non-profit civil rights group.