Republican lawmaker proposes creating new crime of ‘economic terrorism’ aimed at protesters

OLYMPIA, Wash. -- Washington State Sen. Doug Ericksen said Wednesday he is preparing a bill that would create a new crime of "economic terrorism" that would allow felony prosecution of protesters who block streets, cause property damage, threaten jobs and put public safety at risk.

“I respect the right to protest, but when it endangers people’s lives and property, it goes too far,” the Republican said in a news release. “Fear, intimidation and vandalism are not a legitimate form of political expression. Those who employ it must be called to account.”

Ericksen said the bill, which is being prepared for next year’s legislative session, would allow felony prosecution "of those who intentionally break the law in an attempt to intimidate or coerce private citizens or the government by obstructing economic activity."

He didn't indicate who would determine when protesters become economic terrorists, according to KCPQ.

Ericksen said the penalties would also apply "to those who fund, organize, sponsor or otherwise encourage others to commit acts of economic terrorism. Accomplices may be required to pay restitution up to triple the amount of economic damage."

“We are not just going after the people who commit these acts of terrorism,” Ericksen said. “We are going after the people who fund them. Wealthy donors should not feel safe in disrupting middle class jobs.”

His measure would not apply in cases of lawful and protected activities, such as strikes and picketing, he said.

Doug Honig, of the ACLU of Washington, said in reaction:  “The statement throws out a lot of broad rhetoric, and we’ll need to see an actual bill.  But we’re already concerned that some of its loose terms  appear to be targeting  civil disobedience as 'terrorism.'  That’s the kind of excessive approach to peaceful protest that our country and state do not need."

"Let’s keep in mind that civil rights protesters who sat down at lunch counters could be seen as 'disrupting business' and 'obstructing economic activity,' and their courageous actions were opposed by segregationists as trying to 'coerce business and government.'"

5 comments

  • DanU

    This is a great idea! Your liberty ends where it effects mine! Shutting down freeways or other public infrastructure isn’t a demonstration, it’s a crime.

  • Jim Smith

    Like the idea, don’t agree with calling it terrorism and I am sure that there are laws already on the books that could be enforced in cases such as this.
    I do like the fact that a state lawmaker is pushing this and not at the national level. My wish is that DC starts pushing issues down to the state level.

  • confused

    About time. It IS homegrown terrorism. When a political party(ies) are funding/hiring to harass, threaten, burn down, intimidate, beat up another party, what was it obama said elections have consequences? so does trying to bully people because you do not like the consequences. There is protesting, but when fires, looting, blocking sidewalks, roadways, beating people up because of who they voted for-it has to stop. Trust me, it would have never been like this if dems would have won and reps tried the stunts being pulled. Reps would have been jailed for hate crimes, homegrown terrorism, vandalism, arson, looting, intimidation, you name it.

  • deletedagain

    Having Trump elected seems to be having an effect already. It’s time to stop protecting criminals.
    As stated above there are already laws to cover these actions but just like hate crimes it doesn’t apply to black racists.

  • Mud Stump

    So republicans don’t want their guns taken away because they think they may need those guns to rise up against the government, but they want a law that criminalizes protest. So, which is it?

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