Don’t Equate Protesters with Terrorists

Target: Jeff Sessions, Attorney General of the United States

Goal: Reject a proposal to designate environmental protesters as domestic terrorists.

In alignment with similar actions taken against so-called “black identity extremists,” certain government officials now seek the addition of environmentalists to the ranks of ‘domestic terrorists.’ In late 2017, 84 members of Congress sent an official letter to U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions inquiring about the possibility. This highly questionable step would strike another blow to the efforts of advocates like the Dakota Access Pipeline protesters and could pave the way for equal attacks against other groups deemed disruptive.

The mostly Republican-led effort cites incidents such as the sabotage of pipeline materials as an assault to the energy infrastructure and a subsequent affront to national security. While the actions of a few protesters have been detrimental, these individuals were charged with appropriate crimes. The proposed terrorist designation would take these punishments several dangerous steps further and leave citizens with a label not even given to many mass killers. Worse yet, the wording of the supposed terrorist activities is such that non-violent, peaceful protesters could be caught in the snare. Even the common action of chaining oneself to a disputed structure such as the pipeline could be constituted as a ‘terrorist action’ if these new designations take effect.

This proposal continues a troubling trend of punishing or even criminalizing individuals for exercising their right to free speech. Some institutions have encouraged expulsion for student protesters while other states have actually proposed relieving motorists who hit protesters with their vehicles of responsibility for their actions. In addition, once a group or organization has been labeled a domestic terrorist threat, that group becomes more vulnerable to surveillance.

Sign the petition below to demand that Congress and the DOJ respect the rights of protesters by immediately halting efforts to silence these groups through political intimidation and threats.


Dear Attorney General Sessions,

Several members of Congress recently appealed to have pipeline protesters and similar environmental activists labeled as domestic terrorists. Before you consider such a step, please consider the gravity of these words.

Think of the men who placed a bomb in an Oklahoma City building and took the lives of over 150 people. Remember the men who less than a year apart walked into churches and heartlessly murdered dozens. Or never forget every mass shooter who assaults a concert or a night club or a school and forever changes the lives of communities nationwide.

Do you really believe that protesters who chain themselves to a pipeline or damage equipment fall into the same category as these individuals? Justice is blind, but it is balanced by scales. Any person who breaks the law should be punished, but we have degrees of crime for a reason.

Save the word terrorist for those who terrorize, not those who simply oppose.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: Pax Ahimsa Gethen

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  1. lynn woods says:

    terrorists should all be rounded up and shipped back to where they came from we have so many muslums up here in Canada we can’t even breath because of them and we can’t protest against them no matter what because dear sweet Trudy baby will put us in jail and he pays them free everything and then if they do prove to be a terrorist he gives them an apology and 10.5 million dollars so I say gather them all up from both countries the US and Canada and ship them our we don’t need or want them

  2. GEN AGUSTSSON says:

    protesters are not rioters but rioters are terrorists. fascists are terrorists. let them protest in peace right now!

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