Six states have laws that don’t make protesting illegal directly…,
Just a whole lot attached to it….
But this is not the only arena in which states — meaning largely Republican legislators in states — are responding to the events of 2020 with new legislation. New analysis from the nonprofit organization PEN America has identified 100 pieces of legislation that in some way aim to amplify or introduce penalties associated with what the group calls “protest-related activity.” A number of those bills have been abandoned, as is the case with the voting legislation tracked by the Brennan Center. But six have been signed into law….
There is necessarily some gray area around both sets of legislation. The bills do not argue for limiting the ability of people to vote or to protest — the latter of which is a constitutionally protected right.
But the intent of the restrictions is generally obvious. Many of the bills targeting protest, for example, both increase penalties for rioting and adjust the threshold for declaring a riot downward, as is the case with legislation signed into law in Florida. Many increase penalties for acts of vandalism or for obstructing traffic. Others introduce new trespassing rules, including, as a bill proposed in South Carolina would do, making it a felony to camp on state property without authorization. Another common component of these bills reduces penalties for driverswho strike protesters if the driver feels as though his or her life is at risk. (You can see them all on the organization’s website.)
In several states, the proposed legislation seeks to leverage not only to impose new criminal penalties but new social penalties as well….