Last week Arizona GOP senators—who believe the resisters are being paid to protest, though they cannot say from whom or how much—voted to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad even if it hasn’t yet turned bad.
Free speech is on the ropes, y’all, because now police will be able to decide to arrest on the chance that maybe, the protest you are attending might, could, somehow, become violent.
Arizona’s SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws—which are now aimed at organized crime—to also include rioting, and this new law redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.
So, what that means, is that if you protest, even peacefully, you can be arrested because police think it might turn violent, and then the Arizona government can criminally prosecute you and seize your assets, and the assets of everyone who ever planned or participated, in a protest, to pay for any damage.
Look, I’ll make this queer: I am all for a protest; a march, a chant, a song, a dance, to highlight your frustration and anger is a good thing. Busting windows, stealing TVs, setting cars on fire is not a protest and those folks should be arrested and made to pay restitution. But if I’m at the protest and you arrest me and make me pay for something I didn’t do, well, that ain’t America, though it is _____’s America.
And Arizona Democratic Senator Steve Farley made an interesting argument about the flaws in this new law: what if the person who broke the window, or vandalized the store, and triggered the alleged riot, was not a member of the protestors, but someone from the other side?
Yup, how can you tell who did what and why, and how can you make anyone pay for something for which they are not responsible?
Democratic Senator Martin Quezada did acknowledge that, often, what’s planned as a peaceful demonstration can turn violent:
“When people want to express themselves as a group during a time of turmoil, during a time of controversy, during a time of high emotions, that’s exactly when people gather as a community. Sometimes they yell, sometimes they scream, sometimes they do go too far.’’
But, Quezada said, while everything that constitutes rioting is already a crime, ranging from assault to criminal damage, and those responsible can be individually prosecuted, the purpose of this new bill appears to be the First Amendment rights of people to demonstrate.
Republican Senator John Kavanagh, who is naturally for the bill, played up the claim that there are professional protestors at these events and that’s what the bill targets. But Kavanagh has no way of knowing if protestors are being paid and he has no proof that at any demonstration that’s taken place in this country since that fateful day in January when hate took the Oval, that anyone was paid to be there.
It’s FakeNews; but, many Republicans are goose-stepping along with Hair Furor and saying paid protesting does happen because without being paid, no one would protest the _____ White House.
Yeah, I know. And, here’s something even scarier; by including rioting into racketeering laws, this new bill allows police to arrest anyone even planning a protest or march.
Thought police, y’all; you plan a protest, you plan on committing vandalism or crimes.
And Kavanagh takes a cue from _____’s playbook by asking if you’d “rather stop a riot before it starts?”:
“Do you really want to wait until people are injuring each other, throwing Molotov cocktails, picking up barricades and smashing them through businesses in downtown Phoenix?”
Um, just because we march doesn’t mean we’re out to hurt anyone, or damage any business, and to make it more clear, using Kavanagh’s logic, shouldn’t we arrest anyone who has a gun because they might use it to kill someone?
I mean, are we going to be a country where you’re arrested for what you might do? Is that what the country will become under President ____?
If it is, then I’ll be marching against it.