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Progressive Politics in Minnesota, the Nation, and the World

MN House Targets Protest

Category: GOP House Republicans
Posted: 02/22/17 16:21

by Dave Mindeman

The Minnesota House Republican protest bill is wrong in so many ways.

To single out protesters in a public safety context is ridiculous. Personally, I don't condone blocking freeways. It is dangerous and shouldn't happen. But I understand the need to get people to pay attention.

But the real thing is this. Any blocking of the freeway for any reason is already illegal. It already has consequences. Years ago, truckers were protesting increased fees and did convoys that slowed interstate traffic to a crawl. The police charged people. They made arrests. It was difficult to break this up, but nobody said it was NOT a public safety issue.

And, we did not suddenly bring forth legislative bills to specifically ban such a practice.

So why are we doing it here? As well as a few other states?

It is because Black Lives Matter was involved. It is just another discriminatory action by Republican majorities. And that is wrong.

There should be no law that targets suppression of protest - and believe me, that is what is happening here, because the debate on this bill specifically targets protesters with penalties that are unsustainable - and probably would never hold up on appeal.

Rep. Pat Garofalo and Rep. Kathy Lohmer are the main proponents. Here is Garofalo's reasoning....

Garofalo repeatedly said he was concerned about ambulances not being able to reach hospitals, in addition to the risk to both protesters and drivers on the high-speed routes. Garofalo did add, "I would be open to conversation to making sure this is focused on corridors of commerce, freeways and freeway ramps."

We already have laws that give consequences for impeded emergency vehicles and flow of commerce. Protests are only one of many potential possibilities. But when you single out protesters and increase the penalties BECAUSE OF THEIR RECENT ACTIONS, you are treading on free speech grounds.

This is wrong - and the MN House Republicans should be ashamed.
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