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Legislators Criminalize Protests in Proposed Bills Across the Country

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Hundreds protest a Trump administration announcement this week that rescinds an Obama-era order allowing transgender students to use school bathrooms matching their gender identities, at the Stonewall Inn on Feb. 23, 2017, in New York City. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

By    |   Friday, 24 Feb 2017 04:13 PM

Republican legislators in at least 18 states have proposed or voted for new laws to criminalize aspects of protests since President Donald Trump's November election in an attempt to keep order and prevent problems that have occurred at mass protests.

Some of the bills introduced in states from Virginia to Washington would increase penalties for blocking highways, ban masks from use during a protest, and even allow seizure of property from people involved in violent protests, according to The Washington Post.

The bills are responses to mass protests on everything from Trump’s policies to police shootings of unarmed black men and the Dakota Access pipeline.

Many legislators say their bills to criminalize protests are needed to keep large numbers of protesters, including alleged paid ones, from overrunning police and overstepping boundaries that used to be respected by mostly peaceful protesters, the Post reported.

Legislation was signed Thursday in North Dakota on four bills that will increase punishments for riot-related offenses and allow for a wider definition of trespassing in an attempt to prevent protests like the ones for the Dakota Access pipeline from becoming problematic, The Hill reported.

These new laws will take effect immediately because they were passed under emergency provisions, The Hill reported, after the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters were raided hours earlier after they refused to leave their protest camp.

Democrats are fighting many of the new laws, citing First Amendment rights as well as existing laws that already prohibit many of the same actions, the Post reported.

Democrats also state new laws criminalizing protests could have a chilling effect, and that many of the new laws may be overturned by the courts for being unconstitutional.

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Republican legislators in at least 18 states have proposed or voted for new laws to criminalize aspects of protests since President Donald Trump's November election in an attempt to keep order and prevent problems that have occurred at mass protests.
legislators, criminalize, protests
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2017-13-24
Friday, 24 Feb 2017 04:13 PM
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