The Phaserl


Draconian Bill Will Allow Cops to Arrest Peaceful Protesters & Seize Their Assets

by Claire Bernish, The Free Thought Project:

Arizona — Anyone caught planning or simply participating in an otherwise peaceful demonstration could be arrested and charged under state racketeering laws — but, far worse, authorities would be free to seize their assets — should a new Arizona bill become law.

Police would be granted the power to arrest protesters on the assumption alone that the protest may devolve into a riot — even if it hasn’t.

Republicans answered the alleged problem of professional, paid protesters by introducing the draconian legislation — incidentally aiming a flaming arrow directly at the Constitution.

“When people want to express themselves as a group during a time of turmoil, during a time of controversy, during a time of high emotions, that’s exactly when people gather as a community,” noted Senator Martin Quezada, quoted by the Arizona Capitol Times. “Sometimes they yell, sometimes they scream, sometimes they do go too far.”

Quezada, however, feels the proposed legislation would quash First Amendment rights at the root — striking doubt into the minds of planners, who might succumb to fears a planned protest could turn ugly, and cancel the event.

Proponents of the legislation claim the bill only targets specific groups of demonstrators — not law-abiding citizens gathered to exercise free speech and free assembly rights.

“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,” asserted Senator John Kavanagh, adding, without providing any examples,

“A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists. But this stuff is all planned.”

Again, a reckless politician chooses the fraught, popular perception of anarchists, conflating political anarchism with activists and others who employ the tactics of black bloc — dressing indistinctly and in all-black clothing to assumedly make individual identification difficult for authorities — usually in order to perform a purposeful criminal act like property damage.

With the premise for a rights-crushing law resting on wildly biased mischaracterizations — a tactic of broad-stroke language — politicians plainly seek to ensnare everyone not intimidated by the bill’s chilling language on planning.

“Wouldn’t you rather stop a riot before it starts?” Kavanagh asked during a debate over Arizona Senate Bill 1142. “Do you really want to wait until people are injuring each other, throwing Molotov cocktails, picking up barricades and smashing them through businesses in downtown Phoenix?”

By appealing to the base emotions of fear and anger, these politicians have crafted a legal cage for the First Amendment — by further curtailing rights under the guise such acts of destruction weren’t already illegal.

And that’s the catch — because myriad destructive acts are considered rioting under current law — politicians expanded the definition of rioting to include “actions that result in damage to the property of others,” the Capitol Times reports.

Kavanagh and other supporters of the bill believe — or at least publicly pontificate — on the imperative to protect property from even the possibility of harm, over the constitutionally-protected right to exercise free speech. They insist the law would help thwart malicious plans by a few truly rotten seeds, but the actuality is murkily-defined guidelines which can be easily exploited by authorities to further curb growing dissent.

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