Protests work. We who are old enough learned that first hand back in the 1960s when we stopped a war, helped force through civil rights legislation and made a big leap forward with women's rights. And it's true again in the 20-teens.
In addition to some wins and the growing resistance movement now, you can tell for sure progress is being made when the opposition gets scared enough to threaten criminal action.
Take a look at this map:
Republicans in at least 18 state legislatures have introduced bills that would restrict public protests and in some cases, criminalize them. The Hill reports:
”Arizona Republicans have introduced a measure to expand racketeering laws, which target organized crime groups, to include rioting. The bill would allow police officers to arrest and the seize the assets of those who organize protest events...
“One measure in Tennessee goes so far as to give civil immunity to a driver who hits a protester blocking traffic.
“The legislation, sponsored by state Rep. Matthew Hill (R), comes after a car hit volunteers helping protesters cross a street in Nashville as they demonstrated against the Trump administration’s orders blocking immigrants from seven Muslim-majority countries.”
The Washington Post, in publishing a thorough listing of the various legislation to date noted that there are already plenty of laws throughout the U.S. that control public demonstrations:
“Democrats in many of these states are fighting the legislation. They cite existing laws that already make it a crime to block traffic, the possibility of a chilling effect on protests across the political spectrum, and concerns for protesters’ safety in the face of aggressive motorists.”
The Post reporter goes on to describe pending legislation in each of the 18 states. Some examples:
• “An Indiana Senate committee recently toned down a bill that would have allowed police to shut down highway protests using 'any means necessary.' The current version allows police to issue fines for such behavior.”
• “A Republican lawmaker [in Missouri] has introduced legislation that would make it illegal for protesters to wear masks, robes or other disguises during protests deemed to be illegal.”
• “A bill before the Mississippi legislature would make obstruction of traffic a felony punishable by a $10,000 fine and a five-year prison sentence.”
• “A novel piece of legislation in Oregon would require public community colleges and universities to expel any student convicted of participating in a violent riot.”
None of the 18 bills has become law yet and according to the ACLU, most of them are unconstitutional. Even so, it takes time, money and effort to fight them and to me, the legislation frighteningly exposes how ignorant or dismissive or both of the First Amendment state Republican leaders are. ACLU senior staff attorney, Lee Rowland:
I bring all this to your attention because it is just one of the many overt and sneaky ways the Trump administration and the Republicans - as much in the states as in Congress - are working hard to strip away constitutionally guaranteed rights.
That, and how easy it is for us to succumb to Trump fatigue. With ten new outrageous assaults on our senses every day, it's not hard to throw up our hands and stop reading the news.
Please don't. I know as well as anyone how hard it is for old people to get out and march for several hours. But there is a lot more we can do if we cannot be there in person.
And it must be us, the people, because I didn't see anything on Saturday at the election of the new leadership of the Democratic Party that will correct any of their ineptness.
Michael Moore has some good ideas for us. Here's the first item of his ten point plan:
THE DAILY CALL: You must call Congress every day. Yes – YOU! 202-225-3121. It will take just TWO MINUTES! Make it part of your daily routine, one of those five things you do every morning without even thinking about it:
- Wake up
- Brush teeth
- Walk dog (or stare at cat)
- Make coffee
- Call Congress
Further, says Moore, and I agree one hundred percent with this important note:
”[I]f you’re saying to yourself, 'I don’t need to call because my rep is a Democrat!' — that is NOT true. They need to hear from you. They need to know they have your support.
“Don’t believe it? Our beloved Sen. Elizabeth Warren voted in favor of Ben Carson as Secretary of Housing and Urban Development! I’m sure no one in Massachusetts thought they had to call her. YOU DO! She and the other Dems need to hear from the boss — YOU! They work for us – and what boss doesn’t have daily contact with his or her employees?”
Moore includes another terrific idea, a smart phone app someone created called 5 Calls that Moore says “...will dial the friggin’ phone for you and give you talking points for when you speak to your reps!”
It's available for both Android and Apple smartphones. I downloaded it and it couldn't be easier. Give it permission to access you location then, each day, there are a dozen or so issues about which you can call your representatives.
It even gives you a good explanation of each issue then shows you a photo of your representative with his/her phone number. Tap it and the phones dials for you.
Michael Moore has a lot of other good ideas in his Ten Things, many of which even we old folks can do.
We can't let protesting get old. We can't allow ourselves to become bored with it. We can't let President Trump wear us down. Our children, grandchildren and our country, need us to fight back as hard as we can.