As Donald Trump’s controversial presidency has sparked a new wave of civil disobedience and activism, Republicans have set their sights on making life more difficult for protesters.
Arizona is among a list of states that are trying to infringe on people's First Amendment rights by discouraging protests.
On Wednesday, the Arizona Senate voted 17-13 to send SB 1142 to the House, which would expand the state’s racketeering laws to include rioting, Jezebel reports.
The definition of rioting was also broadened to include any damage to property. Under the bill, the government would have the right to criminally prosecute and seize assets of anyone at a protest where any property damage occurs.
On the surface, it might not seem so bad. Cracking down on rioters could be a great way to curve violence and destruction to cities, right?
The bill doesn’t just target those who actually cause damage but all protesters, peaceful or otherwise.
Democratic Sen. Steve Farley offered an example to the Arizona Capitol Times to explain how, in most cases, there’s no way to pinpoint who smashed a window or set a trash can on fire in a mass protest, so all demonstrators suffer.
“For example, Farley said, a ‘Tea Party’ group wanting to protest a property tax hike might get permits, publicize the event and have a peaceful demonstration. And one person, possibly from the other side, starts breaking the windows of a car.
And all of a sudden the organizers of that march, the local Tea Party, are going to be under indictment from the county attorney in the county that raised those property taxes. That will have a chilling effect on anybody, right or left, who wants to protest something the government has done.”
Democratic Sen. Andrea Dalessandro noted how this legislation is also likely to affect certain demographics more than others.
“I’m fearful that ‘riot’ is in the eyes of the beholder and that this bill will apply more strictly to minorities and people trying to have their voice heard,” she said.
This Trump era is truly signaling death to democracy as we know it.