GOP Congressman Moves To Charge Protesters For Protesting

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Some Republicans will go to great lengths to avoid confronting the realities of the climate crisis, including apparently via introducing a bill to require arrested protesters to pay for overtime work of D.C. police. The bill from Republican Indiana Congressman Jim Banks comes shortly after demonstrators trying to bring attention to and demand action on the climate crisis took over a number of key intersections in D.C. on Monday. Banks denounced the protests as simply “illegal” and supposedly a violation of the First Amendment rights of taxpayers who don’t support them but are part of the financial backing for D.C. police anyway.

Banks tweeted:

‘In response to today’s #ShutDownDC, I will be working on introducing a bill that would force protesters arrested at demonstrations in D.C. to pay for police overtime and other fees related to the action… if, in connection with the demonstration, the person is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense. Washington, D.C. collects over $4 billion in federal funding. Hoosier taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for illegal protests – it is a violation of their 1st Amendment rights.’

There’s not any particular indication that the bill will get anywhere in the Democratic majority House. Its proposal isn’t coming in a vacuum — Republicans as high-up as President Donald Trump himself have denounced protests in general to the point of suggesting they should be illegal, so to call Banks’s plan a slippery slope would be an understatement. The Trump administration has already proposed a new rule to limit D.C. demonstrations including via closing off most of the sidewalk outside the White House and imposing what they call a new “First Amendment fee.”

In this case, Republicans have also proven not exactly keen on paying attention to the message of those lately trying to bring attention to the climate crisis. Trump himself even took to Twitter to mock high-profile teenage climate activist Greta Thunberg, quipping in response to a video of her passionately pointing out that people are “suffering” and “dying” that she seems like a “very happy young girl looking forward to a bright and wonderful future.” How are we supposed to get anywhere with a president who resorts to mocking a teenager pointing out basic facts?

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