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Mon Jul 8, 2019, 03:19 PM

'Protesters as terrorists': growing number of states turn anti-pipeline activism into a crime

Source: The Guardian

'Protesters as terrorists': growing number of states turn anti-pipeline activism into a crime

Conservative lawmakers have put forward laws criminalizing protests in at least 18 states since 2017 that civil liberties advocates say are unconstitutional

Susie Cagle in San Francisco
Mon 8 Jul 2019 11.00 BST Last modified on Mon 8 Jul 2019 11.01 BST


Seven US states have passed laws that ratchet up the penalties for activists protesting. Photograph: Susie Cagle/The Guardian

From the Standing Rock camps in North Dakota to tree-sits in Texas, activists have attempted to stop pipeline construction with massive shows of civil disobedience. Now they could be forced to change those tactics, or face heavy penalties under a wave of new anti-protest laws that civil liberties advocates say violate the first amendment.

Conservative lawmakers have put forward laws criminalizing protests that disrupt the construction and operation of pipelines in at least 18 states since 2017.

• Seven states have passed laws that ratchet up the penalties for activists protesting or even planning protests of oil and gas pipelines and other “critical infrastructure”
• At least six more states are considering such laws
• In each case, misdemeanors are elevated to felonies, and criminal and civil punishments are escalated drastically
• The ACLU and the Center for Constitutional Rights have mounted challenges against such laws in Louisiana and South Dakota.

“This is a trend that shows no sign of slowing, let alone stopping,” said Elly Page, who has been tracking anti-protest legislation for more than two years as a legal adviser for the International Center for Non-Profit Law.

The laws purport to only criminalize violence and property damage in service of pipeline safety, but critics say their greater intent appears to be to deter nonviolent civil disobedience by framing it as potentially violent in itself.

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Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2019/jul/08/wave-of-new-laws-aim-to-stifle-anti-pipeline-protests-activists-say

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