Letter to the editor: New law curtailing protesters’ rights is chilling

By JOAN KENT | La Farge

A few years ago, I was among people peacefully protesting former Gov. Scott Walker on a driveway he used to enter an area plant. When a company representative asked us to move, we did so immediately to a nearby public highway. But what if we’d been on property owned, leased, or operated by an oil or petroleum distribution company, and the company rep called law enforcement?

Under a law recently passed by the Wisconsin legislature and signed into law by Gov. Tony Evers, such protestors can not only be arrested, but also charged with a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. That’s chilling. And I fear it’s a slippery slope. It’s also over-reach, as existing laws address situations in which protestors damage facilities.

The bill was yet another created by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and passed by state legislators who carry water for ALEC in exchange for donations from corporations. Both houses passed it by voice vote, so there’s no record how individual legislators voted. But I had hoped, naively, that it would die on Evers’ desk.

You may think the law is fine, necessary to keep law and order. And you may not have any reason to peacefully protest. Now.

But even if you never do, what about your children and grandchildren? If it weren’t for dissent, Americans would still be under British rule. And without dissent now, we may soon no longer have a democracy.


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