Target: Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton
Goal: Commit to vetoing a law that would charge protesters for the cost of policing protests.
The Minnesota state House of Representative is considering a bill that would allow governments in the state to sue protesters for the cost of policing, including helicopter time, police wages, and administrative costs. This bill comes in the wake of the Black Lives Matter protests in Minneapolis-St. Paul, following the police killing of Philando Castille. Freedom of expression and assembly are basic tenets of the constitution. If passed, this law will result in protesters potentially being on the hook for millions of dollars.
Protests are an important way of rallying communities around given issues. Outside of elections, protests and political action are one of the best ways for people to show their disagreement with policies and institutions. Many people, especially poorer residents of Minnesota, may choose not to protest if they believe they will be charged thousands or even millions of dollars. Not only will this bill suppress protestors but it will effectively create an illusion of greater consensus and satisfaction with state government policy. Sign our petition and call on Governor of Minnesota Mark Dayton to commit to vetoing this bill.
Dear Governor Dayton,
As you know, the House Civil Law Committee has passed a bill that would authorize local governments to sue protesters for the cost of policing protests, including helicopter time, police wages, and administrative costs. This may result in protesters paying millions of dollars for their constitutionally guaranteed rights to freedom of assembly and speech. I believe this law very clearly violates our constitution, and goes against principles deeply embedded in the hearts of the American people.
If this law passes, the potentially prohibitive costs of protesting may result in reduced turnout to protests and rallies, despite sympathetic public sentiment. This would be an affront to democracy in Minnesota, as protests are an important avenue for the expression of public opinion. This chilling effect may give the illusion of contentment, while tensions continue to build. Worse, this bill may reduce public pressure on lawmakers, allowing them to act against the will of the voters.
Constitutional rights should not be a pay-to-play system. Lawmakers cannot legislate away the voice of the public. I urge you veto this bill if it comes before you.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Jean-Pierre Demailly, via Wikimedia Commons