Republicans aren't wasting any time in their legislative response to protesters around the country as the party has been saddled with the most unpopular regime in modern history. Now the GOP is moving at the state level to criminalize these protests and in Arizona at least the goal is to seize all assets of anyone involved in assembly.
Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.
SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.
But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated. And what’s worse, said Sen. Steve Farley, D-Tucson, is that the person who may have broken a window, triggering the claim there was a riot, might actually not be a member of the group but someone from the other side.
Sen. Martin Quezada, D-Phoenix, acknowledged that sometimes what’s planned as a peaceful demonstration can go south.
“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,’’ he said. “Sometimes they yell, sometimes they scream, sometimes they do go too far.’’
Quezada said, though, that everything that constitutes rioting already is a crime, ranging from assault to criminal damage, and those responsible can be individually prosecuted. He said the purpose of this bill appears to be designed to chill the First Amendment rights of people to decide to demonstrate in the first place for fear something could wrong.
Join a protest, get rung up on RICO charges if anyone so much as breaks a window...even if it was not anyone involved in the protest. Republicans will not tolerate dissent, and they will use the power of the state to crush anyone who disagrees with them.
But Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said that chilling effect is aimed at a very specific group of protesters.
“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,’’ he said.
“A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists,’’ Kavanagh continued. “But this stuff is all planned.’’
There’s something else: By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events. And Kavanagh, a former police officer, said if there are organized groups, “I should certainly hope that our law enforcement people have some undercover people there.’’
Once again, the next step is to declare liberal protest groups and organizations like Black Lives Matter as terrorists and enemies of the state. These are the laws that will be used to justify that the full power of the state be used to obliterate anyone who fails to bow to Trump the Tyrant.
These laws will be used against American citizens. They will be spread to other states, and I would suspect they will be implemented as federal crimes as well, and soon.
We're moving very quickly into the authoritarian era of America. My prediction that the next major Black Lives Matter protest in a red state will be met with overwhelming, lethal force is all but a guarantee at this point.
This is happening in real-time, guys.