FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 27, 2021
UPDATE: MORE THAN 100 ADVOCACY GROUPS CALL ON U.S. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE TO CONDEMN ANTI-PROTEST LAWS
Advocacy groups to the DOJ on state sponsored bills meant to disrupt First Amendment right to protest: “This is an assault on our constitutional rights, our communities, and human rights.”
Washington, D.C. — Eight months after groups led by Color Of Change, MediaJustice, and Free Press sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice to immediately condemn state-sponsored anti-protest laws, a total of more than 100 advocacy groups have signed on to the letter. The letter calls on Justice Department officials to make a public statement condemning the legislation and to support efforts to bring litigation against states that have passed anti-protest legislation that censor and disrupt our First Amendment right to protest racial injustice.
“These laws, often backed by organizations affiliated with police unions, are an attempt to criminalize free speech, punish those who speak up for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) communities, and even offer specific protections for counter-protesters who harm us,” wrote the advocates. “In addition to targeting our right to protest, the laws also undermine our collective struggle for Black freedom by allowing local police to penalize municipalities that reduce funding for law enforcement and denying bail to those arrested until their first court appearance – ensuring more of our people in jail. This is an assault on our constitutional rights, our communities, and human rights. We have seen time and time again that where racial justice protests flourish, anti-protest laws follow.”
In Florida, Oklahoma, and Iowa, laws include deputizing vigilante violence by protecting drivers who injure protesters with their cars. A proposed bill in Indiana would ban anyone convicted of unlawful assembly from holding state employment, including elected office; and bills pending in Minnesota and Oregon would disqualify people convicted of protest-related crimes from enrolling in public assistance programs – including Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and unemployment benefits.
Color Of Change is the nation’s largest online racial justice organization. We help people respond effectively to injustice in the world around us. As a national online force driven by over 7 million members, we move decision-makers in corporations and governments to create a more human and less hostile world for Black people in the United States. Visit www.colorofchange.org