Target: Ms. Kathy Hochul, Lieutenant Governor of New York State
Goal: Oppose plan that makes resisting arrest into a felony.
A bill has been introduced to the New York State Senate that aims to change “resisting arrest” from a misdemeanor into a felony. The bill was introduced by New York City Chief of Police Bill Bratton in an attempt to make arrests go more smoothly, but the reality of this change would be a deterrent to all forms of protest. While this bill might have had pure intentions, something must be done to stop it before it deters people from exercising their political right to free speech.
It is a well-known fact that many people arrested for “resisting arrest” are done so because they are peacefully protesting and refuse to leave their chosen location. A change in the legal charge that comes with such protesting would effectively deter people from voicing their dissent. Beyond that, there is the issue of what really constitutes “resisting arrest.” The charge is thrown about with great carelessness by police officers and is often only made because officers lose control of a situation. For example, one lawyer from the National Lawyers Guild has said that protesters are sometimes slapped with the charge for simply not moving their wrists correctly while being arrested. It is also well known that police officers use the charge to cover up police brutality which is ever becoming more of an issue.
Are protesters to have their records forever stained for simply expressing their discontent? Felony charges carry serious, life-altering consequences such as the inability to find work, the inability to obtain a foreign visa, and being barred from voting. This change would be a huge hit to freedom of speech in New York State and is unacceptable. Please sign here to ensure that all people are allowed to voice their opinions without fear of excessive state retaliation.
Dear Lieutenant Governor Hochul,
It has come to my attention that a bill recently been introduced which would change the “resisting arrest” charge from a misdemeanor to a felony in New York State. This change would be unacceptable as it would serve to limit free speech, and protest, in your fine state. It is well known that “resisting arrest” charges are made carelessly by police and are often used to cover up instances of brutality. It is also well known that just about anything a protester does is considered resisting arrest by most police.
Are protesters to have their lives inexorably changed because they spoke their mind and exercised their constitutional right to free speech? Felons in this country lose many of their rights and have an extremely difficult time finding work. This change would not only make felons innocent people trying to voice their discontent, it would be unconstitutional. I am writing to beg that you prevent this bill from ever passing through the New York State Senate and protect the right to free speech for all people in your state.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: The All-Nite Images via Wikimedia Commons