New York, NY. Americans have enjoyed the protected right of public protest for well over 200 years, being considered fundamental to America’s democratic process. Recently though, the United Nations human rights division has stated their investigators have found the right seriously in jeopardy nationwide under the new Trump administration’s view of what is acceptable.
In the past few months, on the heels of a fresh wave of organizing by liberal elements in American politics, at least 19 states have introduced new laws that would criminalize peaceful protest. In places such as Iowa, Michigan and Minnesota, Republican elected officials have proposed laws that would stiffen penalties for demonstrators who block traffic. In North Dakota, GOP leaders are pushing a bill that would allow motorists to run over and kill protestors, as long as the crash was accidental. In Indiana, conservatives want to instruct police to use “any means necessary” to remove activists from a roadway. Critics of Trump worry this could lead to more brutal police response.
In Missouri, state officials want to make it illegal to wear a robe, mask or disguise to a protest. Legislators in North Carolina want to make it a crime to heckle lawmakers. The United Nations warns, these bills represent an “alarming and undemocratic” direction America is going, that could have a chilling effect on activism.
From the Black Lives Matter movement, to the environmental and Native American movements opposed to the Dakota Access oil pipeline, and the Women’s Marches, individuals and organizations across the United States have mobilized in peaceful protests,” Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent U.N. experts on freedom of assembly, said in a statement.
United Nations experts believe the trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States constitutional pillars known as free speech. The UN team also concludes the crack down further violates international humanitarian laws as well.