Two United Nations experts say that at least sixteen states have introduced legislation that will restrict the right to peaceful assembly. The bills are aimed at silencing peaceful protestors who disagree with President Donald Trump and the Republican agenda.
Maini Kiai, the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of peaceful assembly, and David Kaye, Special Rapporteur on the protection of the right to freedom of expression, are calling the trend across America “alarming” and “undemocratic.” They also caution that the onslaught of anti-protest bills has been intensifying since Trump prepared to take office in January.
The two Special Rapporteurs issued a statement decrying the move towards authoritarianism:
“Since January 2017, a number of undemocratic bills have been proposed in state legislatures with the purpose or effect of criminalising peaceful protests. The bills, if enacted into law, would severely infringe upon the exercise of the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly in ways that are incompatible with US obligations under international human rights law and with First Amendment protections.
“The trend also threatens to jeopardise one of the United States’ constitutional pillars: free speech.”
They also sent a letter to the U.S. government detailing the breaches of basic liberties that are now up for discussion. An excerpt follows:
“In this connection, we would like to bring to the attention of your Government information we have received concerning a number of proposed Bills criminalizing peaceful protests in 16 states in the United States of America (USA), representing a worrying trend that could result in a detrimental impact on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in the country.” [emphasis theirs]
America can no longer be trusted to uphold the civil liberties guaranteed in the Bill of Rights and the United Nations feels compelled to intervene. The letter details each piece of legislation that concerns them and urges the federal government to not permit the breach of basic freedoms.
The Republican Party has forfeited all claims to stand for Constitutional liberties. They rant about the Second Amendment in an attempt to justify allowing lethal weapons into every facet of American society, but they are turning their backs on the First Amendment when it doesn’t suit them.
Republicans want First Amendment protections for Christians, but not for Muslims. They want their rights to speech, assembly, and expression, but not for peaceful protestors who oppose their agenda. This reminiscent of attempts in the Civil Rights era to crack down on peaceful protestors.
The Republican in the White House is doing everything he can to delegitimize mainstream news as “FAKE” while endorsing the ultra-conservative Fox News and alt-right Breitbart. Trump even suggested changing libel laws to allow him to sue mainstream news sources that cover him critically.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.