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State legislatures vote to silence protest 

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click to enlarge Greenpeace got caught up in Texas’ anti-protest law. Among co-sponsors of Colorado’s 2017 version: El Paso County’s Sens. Kent Lambert and Bob Gardner. - © GREENPEACE
  • © Greenpeace
  • Greenpeace got caught up in Texas’ anti-protest law. Among co-sponsors of Colorado’s 2017 version: El Paso County’s Sens. Kent Lambert and Bob Gardner.

When did We The People vote to outlaw peaceful public protest against corporate profiteers who’re running roughshod over our values, livelihoods, environment and… well, our lives?

Answer: Never. Yet, behind our backs, for-sale state lawmakers are passing corporate-written laws that criminalize our protests against their greed, assessing inordinate jail time and exorbitant fines for the vague offense of “interrupting” or “interfering with” corporate operations and infrastructure.

Last year, the secretive American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-financed front group, wrote a model bill called the “Critical Infrastructure Protection Act” to sledgehammer peaceful protesters of corporate wrongdoing. Virtually identical versions of ALEC’s bill were then introduced in 22 state legislatures, including Colorado — and nine have already been enacted in: Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.

The Texas version, which took effect Sept. 1, was used just 11 days later to slap harsh felony charges on Greenpeace protesters and 20 others who were also arrested during the nonviolent, symbolic shutdown of the Houston Ship Channel. It was lobbied through the legislature by Chevron, Dow, Exxon, Koch Industries, Shell and other giants. Then it was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott, whose top industrial donor group is — surprise! — oil and gas, which pumped more than $10 million into his 2018 election campaign.

These autocrats say they just want to stop violence and vandalism, but Greenpeace protesters committed neither. The real intent of these laws is to penalize legitimate protest, hoping to scare the American people away from even trying to exercise our basic democratic rights. To help fight this blatant suppression, go to “PolluterWatch” at PolluterWatch.org.

You can contact Hightower at jimhightower.com.

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