Read: Protecting the Right to Protest

Standard

Protest. Public demonstration.

Those rioters in Berkeley earlier this month, like the ones last month on Inauguration Day in Washington, D.C., don’t speak for me. They shattered windows and set fires and destroyed property and attacked police. Theirs were lawless rampages, not peaceful protests. They should pay the price for their crimes.

But unless you count crowds like Donald Trump counts crowds, those rioters were a small segment of larger and otherwise non-violent protests, one against Trump and the other against a Trump acolyte. Which is why it maddened me when a conservative friend told me in an e-mail that my party is “in concert with rioters, anarchists, and terrorists.”

No. They don’t act for me. Or for my party. Asserting otherwise is specious. But the sentiment is spreading.

Recently there was a story here in The Denver Post headlined, “Protests prompt states to pursue crackdown.” Although thankfully there was no case in Colorado, it was about Republican legislators in statehouses elsewhere across the country who are backing bills to regulate dissent. If dissent leads to destruction, I’m all for it. But some of these proposals go too far.

Like the ones in Iowa and Minnesota that would criminalize the act of blocking traffic in the course of a public protest. Or the one in Washington state which would criminalize demonstrations that disrupt businesses or shut down streets. Or the one in Michigan which would stiffen the fine for protesters who “interfere with business or the enjoyment of one’s home.” Or the one in Missouri, which would make any protest illegal if demonstrators hide their identity with masks. Or get this: a proposal in North Dakota would acquit “negligent” drivers from criminal charges if they hit demonstrators who are blocking a road. Read the rest of the story on the Denver Post.