ACTION ALERT: Protect First Amendment Right to Protest
“Public Safety” Bill Gives Governor War Powers; Makes Protesters Felons
SB 176 started out as a “shell” or empty bill entitled, ”Accommodate Legislation Relating to the Protection of Public Safety.” It has become a bill giving the governor enhanced powers when dealing with protests.
This desecration of the people’s First Amendment right to peaceably assemble will be heard in Senate State Affairs Committee this Wednesday, Feb. 22 at 10am in Room 414 at the Capitol. We urge members and others to show up and pack the meeting room to testify against this chilling bill.
An article posted in the Argus Leader alerted us to an amendment proving that this is a move to enhance the governor’s powers to declare a “public safety zone” during protests wherein protesters could be charged with “aggravated criminal trespass”--a Class 1 misdemeanor--and is specifically targeted against the potential for protests against the KXL pipeline. If that protester has already been charged for trespass within the last two years--even in another state--the charge automatically increases to a Class 6 FELONY.
Another good description of the potential effects of this bill can be found on the Dakota Free Press blog (click here).
If you can’t come--contact members of the Senate State Affairs Committee and urge them to vote NO on this bad bill.
Curd, R. Blake