No, It’s Not Okay To Hit Protesters With Your Car

In early 2017, in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests, Standing Rock, and widespread anti-Trump rallies, Republicans introduced over 40 anti-protest bills in 29 states – most in the name of public security.

Eight of the bills became law. Among them were bills that restricted certain types of protest (e.g. wearing masks), increased penalties on protesters, or gave elected officials more powers to block protests. Lawmakers have slowly been criminalizing dissent for years. These bills are hastening the process in Oklahoma, Tennessee, North Carolina and the Dakotas.

Fortunately, many bills were defeated, but these too showed a disturbing trend.  Beginning in North Dakota as a response to the water protectors of Standing Rock, seven bills indemnified motorists from civil and criminal liability if they struck a protester with their vehicle.

Most of the bills were in committee on August 12, 2017, when a 20 year-old Kentucky man, James Fields Jr., drove his grey 2010 Dodge Challenger into an anti-racism protest countering the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Free Assembly and the First Verdicts from the Trump Inauguration Mass-Arrests

While Donald Trump was being sworn in as president, a small group of protesters took their anger out on K Street property, broke bank windows, and set fire to trashcans and a limo. Law enforcement arrested them... along with hundreds of innocent bystanders, peaceful protesters, human rights observers, and journalists. The charges included rioting, property destruction, and felonies that would leave many in prison for decades.

20 plead guilty. Charges were dropped against another 20. 166 cases went to trial. Few had anything to do with the destructive behavior.

The Article 20 Network Welcomes Four New Board Members

Despite profound changes in the global political climate since we launched last October, the Article 20 Network has stayed focused on building a sustainable organization capable of defending the freedom of peaceful assembly for the long-term.

The problems we are tackling - the criminalization of protest, militarization of our police, violence against protesters - have been entrenched for time immemorial and can only be overcome by an enduring effort.

As we face this long game, the Article 20 Network is encouraged and pleased to introduce you to four new members of our Board of Directors. Our Directors play a critical role in shaping the future of our young organization: our strategy, long-term vision and sustainability for the long fight.