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Opposition to Anti-Protesting Laws

WHEREAS, various states across the country have proposed or passed legislation into law, in response to protests, which demand police accountability and an end to police brutality and racism, that occurred throughout the United States in response to the brutal killing of George Floyd and other unarmed African Americans by a police officer throughout our Nation; and

WHEREAS, although most of the protests throughout our Country did not involve large-scale clashes between police and protestors or violence of any kind, these proposed and enacted state bills target individuals accused of committing illegal acts during the protests; and

WHEREAS, some of the pieces of state legislation make it a crime or increase the criminal penalty for blocking traffic during a protest; allow drivers who injure or kill protestors to escape civil liability; prohibit the pre-trial release on bail or bond of anyone charged with crimes related to the protests; create monetary penalties for organizations associated with the protests; and create administrative processes that seek to prevent municipalities from reallocating law enforcement budgets; and

WHEREAS, the First Amendment guarantees individuals the right to free speech and assembly, and the United States Supreme Court held, over 70 years ago in the Terminiello v. Chicago decision, that it is unconstitutional to prohibit speech that "induces a condition of unrest, creates dissatisfaction with conditions as they are, or even stirs people to anger;" and

WHEREAS, the language of these state bills are vague and would violate protestors' First Amendment rights by criminalizing a broad range of protected behavior, cause a chilling effect and instill fear into the hearts of Americans who want to exercise their rights, restricting protestors' ability to utilize public streets, that have traditionally been used for the purposes of peaceful assembly, and imposing restrictions on the exercise of free speech merely because some public officials oppose the speakers' views; and

WHEREAS, the Fourteenth Amendment to the US Constitution clearly establishes no State shall "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws;" and

WHEREAS, these state bills and laws are hostile to American values and Constitutional rights.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED, that the NAACP vehemently opposes and demands the repeal of anti-protest legislation which seeks to criminalize free speech currently being considered by any State Legislative body.

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED, that the NAACP will work to prevent any such legislation from being enacted and will work to have those that have already have enacted declared unconstitutional.