In a racist ruling-class backlash to the demonstrations of millions last summer who forced a righteous verdict against killer cop Derek Chauvin, Republicans — at this point almost exclusively Republicans — have introduced 93 bills in 34 states that suppress the right to protest, supposedly protected by the First Amendment. Rightist Florida Governor Ron De Santis signed one into law.
They are disguised as “anti-riot” bills. No one should be fooled by these lying words. Like the “war on terror” and the “war on drugs,” they are an attack on the oppressed. Their goal is to eliminate the masses’ right to organize, mobilize and demonstrate a strength that has grown through a pandemic year.
Others have pointed out that in the capitalist United States, laws defending private property — that is, the property of the capitalists and landlords — already exist. We say that anyone protesting killer cops, anyone facing mortgage foreclosure or eviction, anyone who is hungry, has been sorely provoked — should a bank get its window broken or a police precinct trashed.
Previously, after the heroic struggle against the Dakota Access pipeline at Standing Rock, some 18 states passed laws criminalizing protests disrupting building and operation of oil and gas pipelines. And these new “anti-riot” proposals allow police to arrest and charge anyone present exercising their right to protest should one person throw even a plastic bottle.
Legislatures in Oklahoma and Iowa went even further: They passed bills allowing racists — with or without badges — to use their vehicles as weapons to injure and kill demonstrators. This happened in Charlottesville, Va., August 2017, when one of the fascist scum promoting the Slaveocracy drove his car into the anti-racist demonstrators and killed Heather Heyer. We say never again!
Like all repressive and pro-cop legislation, these new proposals target Black and Brown communities. They can be easily used, however, against all workers and poor people who mobilize against capitalist bosses and cops.
This means the ruling class is preparing for battles that are sure to come against evictions, hunger and seizures of homes, against mass movements to unionize workers or to win higher minimum wages or protests to demand action to stop the climate crisis or a new imperialist war. The entire working class has an interest in stopping these laws — whichever capitalist party proposes them — or fails to stop them from being passed.
Smash the anti-protest laws!