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Freedom of Assembly

Coalition To March On The RNC To Continue Permit Struggle

Milwaukee, WI – On Monday, March 18, organizers with the Coalition to March on the RNC gathered at Milwaukee City Hall to push back on a repressive ordinance being heard at rushed meeting of the Public Works Committee. The ordinance was meant to derail the coalition's efforts and would have given the Milwaukee Police Department special powers to decide who gets to speak and power over the parade route. Furthermore, it would have restricted the protest to a quarter mile away from where the RNC will be held – far from being within sight and sound of the RNC, and far from being what the Coalition to March on the RNC has been demanding for the last year.

‘Democracies’ Deny The Popular Will While Suppressing Protest And Dissent

What is democracy? Dictionaries provide a variety of meanings but in general, they define it as “rule by the people,” which includes the election of representatives in a legislature or a parliament. This simple definition is easily understood but when one takes a closer look at the nations which call themselves democracies, it is clear that the word is now little more than a “get out of jail” free card to cover for what is, in fact, oligarchic rule. No one has to look very far to see the discrepancies between democracy as advertised and how states really function.  Most people here in the United States, 61% according to one poll , want a ceasefire in Gaza.

Protest Is The Tool By Which We Realize Our Democracy

The last several years have provided ample reason for public protest, and many people have been doing just that, including some who never had before. This country has a much-vaunted history of vocal public dissent, but we know that that is intertwined with a sadder history of efforts by the powerful to silence those voices. As we move into 2024, and reasons to speak up and out go unabated, what should we know about our right to protest? What should concern us, or give us hope? Chip Gibbons is a journalist, researcher and activist, and policy director at Defending Rights & Dissent.

Patel Defeated In The Lords But The Battle To Kill The Bill Continues

On Monday night the House of Lords inflicted a series of bruising defeats on the government’s Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill, irreversibly sinking some of its worst aspects. In defiance of the anti-protest nature of the bill, demonstrators outside made so much noise it resonated inside the chamber while the Lords voted against the government on 14 separate counts. But this is not the end of the road. Kill the Bill protesters celebrating this victory must keep piling on the pressure - this attack on civil liberties and our fundamental democratic rights needs to be defeated in its entirety. The bill, described by Amnesty International as an “enormous and unprecedented extension of policing powers” and seen by others as an attack on democracy reminiscent of “Cold War era Eastern European dictatorships” enables the authorities to effectively ban peaceful protest and criminalize freedom of speech and assembly.

Governor DeSantis Signs Unprecedented Anti-Protest And Anti-Public Safety Law

Tallahassee, Fla. - This morning, just days after the Republican-led Florida Senate voted to pass an unprecedented, costly and racially charged bill (House Bill 1) to censor protest, preempt local policing budgets and preserve symbols of white supremacy, Governor DeSantis is signing it into law. The bill passed despite widespread opposition by Floridians of all political ideologies and diverse sectors, after Governor DeSantis made it his number one legislative priority and lobbied behind doors to make sure it passed both Chambers as early as possible. The new law, which does nothing more than silence dissent and criminalize peaceful protestors, will disproportionately censor, incarcerate, and kill Black Floridians simply exercising their constitutional rights, setting a dangerous precedent of criminalization and repression.

The Right To Protest Wasn’t Given – It Was Won

United Kingdom - Over the last few weeks, the brutal policing of protests in Bristol has been profoundly disturbing. The right to peaceful assembly and protest are fundamental principles of any democracy, and the rich history of dissent in this country show us that they literally can change the course of history. Nobody knows this better than the people of Bristol, a city whose radicalism has seen it on the frontlines of change. The Bristol Bus Boycott of 1963 drew national attention to racism in public life, playing a key role in securing the enactment of subsequent race relations legislation that outlawed racial discrimination in public places, housing and employment. This radicalism has been with us in recent years, with last summer’s wave of Black Lives Matter protests seeing the removal of Bristol’s statue honouring the slave owner Edward Colston.

Teen Who Organized BLM Rally Billed $2500 For Police Overtime

A teen who organized a Black Lives Matter rally in her northern New Jersey town said she has been sent a $2500 bill from officials for police overtime. NJ Advance Media reported Friday Emily Gil, 18, of Englewood Cliffs received a letter earlier this month from Mayor Mario M. Kranjac looking for payment of $2,499.26 “for the police overtime caused by your protest.” A civil liberties advocate called the move “shocking.” Gil, a recent high school graduate, had organized a protest on July 25 in the town, just across the river from the uppermost parts of Manhattan. She said she called for action like increasing affordable housing in the town, and chastised Engelwood Cliffs for not implementing it over the years.

The Militarized Assault On Our Right To Protest

The Trump Administration sent federal law enforcement, including the paramilitary squad of Customs and Border Patrol, BORTAC, which has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, to the streets of Portland, OR to stop the ongoing demonstrations against racist police violence. Federal law enforcement, working with local police, is also being sent to other cities where anti-racist protests are going on. We speak with constitutional lawyer Mara Verheyden-Hilliard about the legality of this and how activists can fight back to protect the rights of everyone and end police violence and lawless impunity.

Federal Agents Use Tear Gas To Clear Portland Protest

Thousands of protesters gathered outside the federal courthouse in Portland, Oregon, into the early hours of Saturday shooting fireworks at the building as plumes of tear gas, dispensed by U.S. agents, lingered above. The demonstration went on for hours until federal agents entered the crowd around 2:30 a.m. and marched in a line down the street, clearing remaining protesters with tear gas at close range. They also extinguished a large fire in the street outside the courthouse. The Federal Protective Service had declared the gathering as “an unlawful assembly” and cited that officers had been injured.

This Legislation Won’t Stop Protests – But Here’s What Would

By Eleanor Goldfield for Occupy - As capitalism and its racist, sexist, ecocidal, homicidal and bigoted tenets push forwards, protests have been on the rise. And it is in fact our right to protest - it says so in the First amendment. Lawmakers, however, seem less interested in considering human or civil rights than they are in considering their peace, quiet and pocket books. Recently, 12 bills, filings, laws and proposals have been brought forward to directly curtail our exercise of Freedom of Speech, Press and the Right to Petition our Government - aka the First Amendment. In this special segment, we lay out the vehemently anti-dissident ideas popping up in state legislatures all over the country - from hit and run laws to getting put in jail for laughing; asset seizure for attending a protest to a $1 million fine for organizing a direct action. These creeping authoritarian style moves are directly made to intimidate, silence and destroy those fighting for justice. Interestingly enough, much in the same way that bombing innocent people only creates more terrorists, throwing down a gavel against protesters will only create more.

UN: Americans’ Right To Protest Is In Grave Danger Under Trump

By Staff for Common Dreams - At least 19 U.S. states have introduced bills that attack the right to protest since Donald Trump's election as president, an "alarming and undemocratic" trend, U.N. human rights investigators said this week. Maina Kiai and David Kaye, independent U.N. experts on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression respectively, are calling on lawmakers in the United States to stop the “alarming” trend of “undemocratic” anti-protest bills designed to criminalize or impede the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and expression. "The trend also threatens to jeopardize one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech," they said in a statement, calling for action to reverse such legislation.

Standing Rock Is A Model Of The Right Of Peaceful Assembly

By Dan Aymar-Blair for Truth Dig - The rerouting of the Dakota Access pipeline was a much-needed victory for the rights of indigenous peoples and the sanctity of the environment. The stand at Standing Rock also proved to be a victory for a human right we don’t hear much about: the freedom of peaceful assembly. Peaceful assembly is the presence of individuals in a public forum as an expression of opinion. Often confused with free speech or other expressive human rights, assembly is expressed through presence, what I call the “body as voice.” Thus, when, where and how we make our presence known to others is fundamental to the expression of assembly.

Oakland Activists Defy ‘Protest Curfew’

May 23, Oakland, CA - So tonight the Black women who organized the #SayHerName march in Oakland to bring attention to the scores of Black women being brutalized and terrorized by police were informed by OPD about a new PROTEST CURFEW.. Yes you read that right.. Oakland Police said there is a new protest curfew via Mayor Libby Shaaf According to Cat Brooks who heads up theAnti Police-Terror Project Oakland police stopped them and informed them there is new ordinance that mayor Libby Shaaf had put in place and that there will be no night time protests.. Marches were warned to get on the sidewalk or risk arrest if they continued their protests.. According to Cat, the marches were followed and warned via loud speaker…Brooks also noted that she was told by an insider off the record, this was the first stage of a crack down..

Congress Concerned By Capitol Police Conduct With Protesters

Congress has been critical of the Capitol Police this year when it comes to the department’s handling of protesters. Now, one member is demanding to see the department’s policies on removing demonstrators from House and Senate hearings. It started in January, when Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain called one of the protesters who disrupted a panel hearing “low-life scum,” and later vowed he would be “raising hell” over their behavior toward 91-year-old former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. “I don’t know if they are being more aggressive,” said Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., the latest to scrutinize Capitol Police. “I do know that I have been in hearings where people got up, had a sign, sat down [and] weren’t even asked to leave as long as they didn’t repeat the infraction.” Concerned Capitol Police might have tossed one of her constituents from a House hearing without just cause, Norton wants clarification on the department’s policy on protesters. In a Monday letter to Chief Kim C. Dine, Norton asks Capitol Police to specify the regulations or laws “that indicate whether officers must personally observe the conduct to remove a demonstrator or may rely solely on witness reports.” Local activist Adam Eidinger is fighting “unlawful entry” charges stemming from his arrest during an April 21 House Oversight and Government Reform Committee markup, which he says he was carried out of despite not causing a disturbance. Eidinger heads back to court on May 27. He has said he intends to sue if he is successful in fighting the charges.

Will Charges Against 6 Baltimore Police Bring Justice?

Baltimore State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby’s announcement that the six officers involved in the death of Freddie Gray were being charged brought cheers and celebratory honking of horns. On closer inspection, however, there are important questions as to whether the arresting officers who began the process that led to Gray’s death were charged with an adequately serious offense. Indeed, if it had not been for the illegal arrest and the damage they did to Gray before the van ride, Gray would not have died. Further, comparing how the police were treated with how protesters were treated shows further injustice and prompts questions about amnesty for all those arrested during the protests. If a country truly believed in freedom of speech and the right to assembly, there would be amnesty for all the protesters who were arrested. They should have their records cleansed, the arrests should never have occurred and there should be no record of them. There is a human right to resist injustice that should be respected. As for the case of Freddie Gray, State’s Attorney Mosby still has a chance to amend the charges against the officers involved in his arrest or bring the case before a grand jury and seek an additional charge of second degree murder against the three arresting officers.
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