Over the last few days I have received dozens of calls and emails concerning the GOP proposal to enhance criminal penalties for protest activities and civil disobedience. In addition to being entirely unnecessary, as we already have numerous laws on the books to address the alleged harms, this type of legislation would threaten our Constitutional rights. If this legislation sees the light of day in Olympia, I will exhaust every available option to see it defeated.
From the Boston Tea Party, to the lunch counter sit-ins of the civil rights movement to Occupy Wall Street, at times social and economic justice requires, indeed compels citizens to speak out, to protest and to make their voices heard. Freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and the right to protest are the lynchpins of this democracy and we must never do anything to chill those fundamental rights. That is exactly what such an extreme proposal would do. No matter your political beliefs, we must all work to protect the integrity of our democracy and rally to defend our rights of peaceful assembly and freedom of speech.
I had hoped that the calls for unity from President-elect Trump on election night might have led to more understanding, outreach and dialogue. Instead we are getting rhetoric that moves the country and our state toward more political division, not less.