Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Protecting the Right To Protest



If you think billionaires and massive corporations aren't the problem, think again...

Protecting Our Right To Protest

by C. A. Matthews

Just when you think you can't fall down the rabbit hole into Alice's Wonderland any farther, your elected officials will come up with legislation to abridge your rights to protest and free speech.

I'm not kidding.

Who could joke about something so offensive and so entirely undemocratic? Who could come up with a law that would make even chalking a protest message on a sidewalk a felony? Who could come up with a way to make it legal for the cops to shoot unarmed protesters if they feel the least bit "threatened"?

Our elected officials can--and they have!

Ohio isn't the only state to introduce anti-protesting legislation, but it's the one I'm most familiar with. There are several bills currently in the Ohio legislature that focus on curtailing or restricting protesting and free speech. They are Senate Bills 33, 16 and 41 as well as House Bills 22 and 109. I recently encountered some protesters in Toledo who were speaking out (while we still can) about protecting our rights to protest. Here's my impression of where they were coming from and how it differs from my take.

Most of my fellow anti-protesting protesters (you go crazy just saying that!) weren't happy about their elected representatives supporting these measures, but they felt sure one thing could turn all of these bills around. And what one thing is that? Why, voting these naughty politicians out of office. 

The only reason these politcos created these anti-protesting bills in the first place, according to one of my fellow protesters, is because they belong to the Republican Party. It's that simple. To be a Republican is to be anti-free speech and against embarrassing protests, in his opinion. As soon as "good Democrats" can be put into office and take over these wayward politicians' seats, all threats to our rights to protest and free speech will simply evaporate like a light rain on a hot summer's day.

I wish I could be so optimistic.

Alas, I doubt that turning around the overwhelmingly Republican Ohio House and Senate will automatically kill these anti-protest bills. I wish it could be that simple. But it isn't.

Why isn't it? You only have to look at who or what is behind these pieces of legislation to see why they won't simply "go away" when all the bad, evil, wicked GOPers are voted out of office and replaced with the only other "recognized establishment party" (the Democrats) in the Buckeye State. (That's a whole other blog piece in the making. Ohio's current political establishment hates alternative parties so much that it makes it almost impossible for third parties to keep their "recognized" status from election to election.)

The real money and impetus behind Ohio's anti-protesting measures isn't because Republicans hate free speech. It's because the fossil fuel industry hates free speech and bad publicity more. Big Oil is terrified of protesters shouting, "People over pipelines!" over each and every mile of pipe they bury into our soil. The fracking industry doesn't care much for the bad press they get whenever one of their wells or collection ponds leak. Somehow, Ohioans are supposed to drink petroleum-laden well or river or lake water and like it and live happily ever after.

Uh-huh. Yeah, like who's really fallen down the rabbit hole here?

Big Agriculture plays a part in all this shutting down of free speech, too. But I suspect you already know something about that if you've followed this blog's coverage of the first Rights of Nature Law passed in the United States, The Lake Erie Bill of Rights.

Since both establishment parties--the Republicans and the Democrats--have been well-awarded by Big Oil, Big Ag,  and their lobbyist friends over the years, the chances that a flip in the Ohio House and Senate to a majority Democratic Party leadership would make any difference to how these new laws would be passed and enforced is slim to none.  Money talks--and politicians whose hungry campaign coffers love a big helping of Big Oil dollars aren't going to tell the fossil fuel industry to shut up and go away.

So we will have to do it.

Calling all activists! This spring and summer our voices must be heard and our signs and bodies must be seen before it is too late. And start raising your bail money now. Anti-protest laws mean more arrests. That's the purpose of them. But we have something Big Oil doesn't have--sheer numbers. They can't lock all of us away, all at the same time, can they?

Related Articles:

Ohio Passes Fossil Fuel-Backed Anti-Protest Legislation. https://drillednews.com/ohio-passes-fossil-fuel-backed-anti-protest-legislation/

Protecting the Right To Protest (video)  https://www.wtol.com/video/news/local/protecting-the-right-to-protest-toledo-church-holds-rally-against-proposed-anti-protest-legislation/512-266dcda9-5e4e-4fdd-81db-837610b8093e

Lawmakers, Activists Speak At Cleveland Protest Condemning Anti-Protest Bills in Ohio https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/lawmakers-activists-speak-at-cleveland-protest-condemning-anti-protest-bills-in-ohio/ar-BB1fvDhu

Stop Ohio Anti-Protest Bills https://www.facebook.com/takeactionforoh

Ohio Hearing Proposed Anti-Protest Law Draws Loud Protest https://www.commondreams.org/news/2020/01/30/ohio-hearing-proposed-anti-protest-law-draws-loud-protest 

House Bill Would Impose Harsh New Penalties on Protesters and Their Organizations https://ohiocapitaljournal.com/2020/11/16/house-bill-would-impose-harsh-new-penalties-on-protesters-and-their-organizations/

Our elected representatives in Washington DC are also trying to abridge our right to free speech. Watch this interview with a person who was intimidated by the police for a response to a tweet he posted--not his actual tweet (which wasn't threatening) but another person's response to it that was. He was questioned and scared essentially because the tweet wasn't exactly flattering to a certain Congressmember's recent performance. If your elected officials can't be held accountable and take responsibility for their actions, then are you really living in a democracy?



From Friends of the Earth:

Plastic is accumulating on our beaches and in our oceans. There could be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050. Take action now.

Corporations love plastic. Thanks to the fracking boom, it’s cheap for the fossil fuel industry to create. So oil and gas companies are pushing plastic consumption -- including the widespread use of one-use plastics -- to line their pockets.

But the plastic waste problem has become massive: in the United States 91% of plastic ends up being thrown away, never recycled. Some of it ultimately ends up in our oceans, where it harms or kills marine wildlife.

Call on Congress to protect our planet by supporting the Break Free from Plastic Pollution Act. 

Demand Congress address the plastic crisis before it overruns our planet.

Sign Now

Plastic pollution kills over a million marine creatures annually, including turtles, dolphins, whales, and sea birds. And plastics don’t disappear. They just break down into smaller and smaller pieces until they become microplastics. 

But plastic also impacts humans. On average, people ingest the equivalent of a credit card each week. That’s right -- if you’re an average person, you are likely consuming an average of 5 grams of plastic per week. Microplastics can be found in everyday foods and drinks -- like beer, salt, shellfish and even drinking water!  

Tell Congress you do not want to be exposed to more plastic in your food and water. Stop plastic polluters.

Sign Now

Plastic production also worsens the climate crisis. More than 99% of plastic is created from fossil fuels. The emissions from creating plastic could soon reach the equivalent of 300 coal-fired power plants.

Finally, our country is one of the worst plastic offenders, which is why Congress needs to take action. The United States produces the most plastic waste per capita of any country -- then ships a large portion abroad to countries that are already struggling to maintain their own waste effectively.

Plastic is polluting our entire planet, from the beaches to the deepest depths of our oceans. Congress must address this crisis and stop Big Polluters from destroying our health, land, air, and sea.

Demand the United States break free from plastic and stop the pollution at its source!

Sign Now
Standing with you,

Michelle Chan,
VP of programs,
Friends of the Earth


Common Defense

We're rapidly approaching the May 1 deadline to withdraw troops from Afghanistan, and President Biden still has not proposed a plan to fulfill his campaign promise.

War hawks in the foreign policy establishment are trying to dominate media coverage and claim nobody cares about ending the Forever War in an attempt to force President Biden to continue it.

But we have news for them — we care. There is an overwhelming consensus among veterans and civilian supporters that we must end the Forever War.

That's why Common Defense is calling on supporters across the country to write Letters to the Editor to hold President Biden accountable and show the media there is a grassroots movement calling for an end to the Forever War.

If you agree that we need to end the Forever War, will you write a Letter to the Editor using this tool that will send it directly to the newspapers closest to your home? It’ll just take 2 minutes. We’ve even included sample language you can use!

Write a Letter to the Editor »


The war in Afghanistan has dragged on for nearly 20 years, and it is time to do the right thing and end what veterans call the "Forever War." An entire generation has never known a country at peace, and this conflict has cost a trillion dollars and countless lives.

Pres. Biden has the chance to right this wrong. This conflict must end now, as he promised many times during his campaign. Our continued presence in Afghanistan is not making America safer. In fact, prolonging these conflicts is making us a target and putting our troops in harm's way unnecessarily. It's well past time, please, Mr. President, bring our troops home now.

Military withdrawal from Afghanistan will give our diplomats a chance to do the hard work of building a peace agreement, rather than continuing with a failed military strategy that cannot accomplish anything further, and which the "Afghanistan Papers" published by the Washington Post reveal top generals themselves do not even believe in.

America's veterans and military members deserve to have a government which advocates for them. We're counting on you to do the right thing.

Write a Letter to the Editor »

Writing a Letter to the Editor can have a real impact, especially if you include any applicable information about your military service or name your Representatives in Congress. Believe me, elected officials read these!

If we can get dozens of veterans to sign on, we can take a crucial step to defending our democracy. But we need your help.

Write a Letter to the Editor today — it only takes a few minutes — and send a message that we need to end the Forever War.

In Solidarity,

Alex McCoy
U.S. Marine Corps
Team Common Defense


 From CPDA:

 This week, we learned what happens after a multi-billion dollar company like Amazon spends a year intimidating, punishing, and suppressing workers in Bessemer, Alabama who were working to form a union to push back on unfair working conditions.


While this was not the result that we were hoping for, we are proud of the bravery and tremendous success the workers had in standing up to one the biggest corporations in the world, telling their story on the global stage, and demanding that they be treated with dignity and respect. 


Congress needs to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act to make sure worker voices cannot be silenced. Unions are one of best ways to ensure fair working conditions and equity. And we need to break up these corporations through stronger antitrust laws that give the tools that regulators need to ensure that no corporation can make billions of dollars by profiting from the suffering of workers and the destruction of small businesses. 

If people keep organizing and coming together like the people of Bessemer, we will break Amazon’s stranglehold on our democracy. Sign the petition now to break up Amazon and other Big Tech giants like Google and Facebook!

This is only the beginning. Workers and communities have been standing up to Amazon's greed and abuses for years and we will soon see a time where those efforts will result in the power that workers need to break up Amazon's grip on our economy.


We need to remember that what’s happening in Bessemer is a result of Amazon’s unchecked corporate power and what corporations have done for decades to diminish the power of labor law so that they can get the most profit out of us as possible. 


Workers cannot be the only ones that carry the burden of these abuses. Add your name to demand meaningful antitrust reform that will break up Amazon and rein in its power!


In solidarity,

Ana Maria Archila

Co-Executive Director, CPDA


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