I was alarmed to read in THE DENVER POST today, April 3 that several bills are being proposed to limit the right for peaceful protest. Here is the digest of the article Note Warning is from United Nations.
By Amanda Erickson
The Washington Post
The right to protest is fundamental to American democracy. The country was born, after all, out of decades of civil disobedience by people angry about taxation without representation.
But according to United Nations human rights investigators, this very basic principle is under attack. In the past few months, on the heels of a fresh wave of organizing by liberals, at least 19 states have introduced measures that would criminalize peaceful protest.
Colorado lawmakers are considering a big increase in penalties for environmental protesters. A bill pending in the Virginia state legislature dramatically would increase punishment for people who “unlawfully” assemble after “having been lawfully warned to disperse.” Those who do so could face a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
In Missouri, some lawmakers want to make it illegal to wear a robe, mask or disguise (a hoodie would count) to a protest. Lawmakers in North Carolina want to make it a crime to heckle lawmakers.
Taken together, the United Nations warns, these bills represent an “alarming and undemocratic” trend that could have a chilling effect on activism
“The trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech,” wrote Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent U.N. experts on freedom of peaceful assembly, in a statement. These bills violate international human rights law, they said.