T Nation

Protesting..It's Just Un-American


Yep...I'm going to say it again. Closer to a police state. Thoughts?

Oregon Law Would Jail War Protesters as Terrorists

Apr 2, 8:57 pm ET

By Lee Douglas
PORTLAND, Oregon (Reuters) - An Oregon anti-terrorism bill would jail street-blocking protesters for at least 25 years in a thinly veiled effort to discourage anti-war demonstrations, critics say.

The bill has met strong opposition but lawmakers still expect a debate on the definition of terrorism and the value of free speech before a vote by the state senate judiciary committee, whose Chairman, Republican Senator John Minnis, wrote the proposed legislation.

Dubbed Senate Bill 742, it identifies a terrorist as a person who "plans or participates in an act that is intended, by at least one of its participants, to disrupt" business, transportation, schools, government, or free assembly.

The bill's few public supporters say police need stronger laws to break up protests that have created havoc in cities like Portland, where thousands of people have marched and demonstrated against war in Iraq since last fall.

"We need some additional tools to control protests that shut down the city," said Lars Larson, a conservative radio talk show host who has aggressively stumped for the bill.

Larson said protesters should be protected by free speech laws, but not given free reign to hold up ambulances or frighten people out of their daily routines, adding that police and the court system could be trusted to see the difference.

"Right now a group of people can get together and go downtown and block a freeway," Larson said. "You need a tool to deal with that."

The bill contains automatic sentences of 25 years to life for the crime of terrorism.

Critics of the bill say its language is so vague it erodes basic freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism under an extremely broad definition.

"Under the original version (terrorism) meant essentially a food fight," said Andrea Meyer of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which opposes the bill.

Police unions and minority groups also oppose the bill for fear it could have a chilling effect on relations between police and poor people, minorities, children and "vulnerable" populations.

Legislators say the bill stands little chance of passage.

"I just don't think this bill is ever going to get out of committee," said Democratic Senator Vicki Walker, one of four members on the six-person panel who have said they oppose the legislation.


Here's the written law:

Will this pass? Not likely. But my question....who proposes this kind of shit? Who even thinks that this is what America should be doing?


I think that it is irrational to look at peicemeal ( and off the wall with 25 years for protesting? ) efforts to stop this kind of thing. Right now the public wants more security because of 9/11 but we will let the government only go SO far.

So, i think it is wrong to look at the government, as it has some kind of hidden conspiracy to take away our rights as if we are about to plunge into nazism for example.

Irish, you can look at all kinds of crazy bills being put out any century that you want to look at, but like you said that doesn't mean that it will be looked at seriously.


Can you find a link from a reputable source? I'm trying, but can't come up with anything.


Google the bill number and Oregon


Why not just drive through the crowd in a big shiney Linclon Navigator or maybe a Hummer, while smoking a big fat Cuban cigar and listening to Rush Limbaugh?

I guess the protestors in their zeal to be heard forget that everybody else has the right to free and unmolested passage.
So, Yes when they put their own right to protest above everybody elses rights by blocking city streets and prevent people from carrying on about their daily business, they are violating other peoples civil liberties, and that is un-American.

Ever look at it like that?
Didn't think so.


It was from 2003? I take guess it didn't pass.



Its unconstitutional if it did it wouldnt stay in


I fail to see how a nearly 3 year-old bill that never passed the Oregon state gov't is making us any closer to a police state.

Can you help me out with that one, Irish?

At least clue me in as to how that bill is even remotely relevant nearly 3 years later.


If you've ever been on any comitee that has rule making power you see the tendency of it to sometimes come up with some off the wall ideas.


Actually, since 9/11 i think public opions might be swinging the other way now, in favor of privacy as opposed to greater security , our crazy GWB notwithstanding. What do y'all think about that?


We must always remeber that the protestor's right to stand in the street and shout slogans is more sacred than my right to drive down the public roadway and get to work on time.


No, if they block traffic they should get tossed in the clink. Or if they block access to businesses. The right to protest isn't the right to interfere with others' rights of movement or property rights.


1) How is the right to protest any more important than the right of others to travel freely? Each has it's place and the protesters, I may be mistaken here do not have a right to protest anywhere they please and to the deteriment of public access.

2) 3 y/o bill... never passed anyway. Where is the ensuing "police state" that Irish alluded to? A little research goes a long way when trying to persuade others to see your point.


I think the real point that people aren't getting is not that this bill is 3 yrs old or that it didn't pass -- it's that these are the things that are now trying to be redefined as "terrorism".

More to the point it could have passed, and I don't know how many actually read the bill but it's not 25 years in prison -- it's LIFE in prison OR reduced sentence 25 years forced labor.

A few examples of TERRORISM redefined (out of 132) under this bill:

  • Unlawful possession of a destructive device, as defined in ORS 166.38

  • Computer crime, as defined in ORS 164.377

  • Unlawful labeling of a sound recording, as defined in ORS 164.868

  • Unlawful recording of a live performance, as defined in ORS 164.869

  • Unlawful labeling of a videotape recording, as defined in ORS 164.872

  • Negotiating a bad check, as defined in ORS 165.065

  • Prostitution, as defined in ORS 167.007

  • Animal abuse in the first degree, as defined in ORS 167.320 (hey, one I agree with)

  • Unlawful distribution of cigarettes, as defined in [section 3 of this 2001 Act] ORS 323.482

This is mission creep on steroids. The argument isn't "where is the war on terrorism now" it's "where is the war on terrorism headed"....

Bill Would Allow Arrests For No Reason In Public Place
Dec 19, 2005
The Ohio Patriot Act has made it to the Taft's desk, and with the stroke of a pen, it would most likely become the toughest terrorism bill in the country. The lengthy piece of legislation would let police arrest people in public places who will not give their names, address and birth dates, even if they are not doing anything wrong.

U.S. Can Confine Citizens Without Charges, Court Rules
September 10, 2005
A federal appeals court yesterday backed the president's power to indefinitely detain a U.S. citizen captured on U.S. soil without any criminal charges, holding that such authority is vital during wartime to protect the nation from terrorist attacks.

Police Need Not Say Why Arrest Made: U.S. High Court Overview
Dec. 13 (Bloomberg) -- Police officers don't have to give a reason at the time they arrest someone, the U.S. Supreme Court said in a ruling that shields officers from false-arrest lawsuits.

Right to Trial Imperiled by Senate Vote
This right--technically known as "habeas corpus"--is enshrined in the US Constitution.

College Student Sues Over Mistaken Drug Bust
PHILADELPHIA - When college freshman Janet Lee packed her bags for a Christmas trip home two years ago, her luggage contained three condoms filled with flour - devices that she and some friends made as a joke.

Philadelphia International Airport screeners found the condoms, and their initial tests showed they contained drugs. The Bryn Mawr College student was arrested on drug trafficking charges and jailed. Three weeks later, she was released after a lab test backed her story, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported Thursday.

Terrorist link to copyright piracy alleged

FBI urges police to watch for people carrying almanacs
The FBI is warning police nationwide to be alert for people carrying almanacs, cautioning that the popular reference books covering everything from abbreviations to weather trends could be used for terrorist planning.

US imposes controls on a new security threat - birdwatchers
July 7, 2005
US security agents have come up with a new target for increased scrutiny in their battle against terrorism: birdwatchers. Birdwatchers in certain areas are being forced to provide photographic identification, submit themselves to background checks, and even pay for a police escort.

Children to be labeled 'criminal' by age 3
Leaked report describes plan to ID kids who might become lawbreakers [ie: terrorists]

Your DNA or else: Police to collect your genetic material
A U.S. Senate committee has adopted an amendment to the VAWA legislation that would add the DNA of anyone detained by the cops to a federal DNA database called "CODIS."

Note that it doesn't require that you're convicted of a crime or even formally arrested on suspicion of committing one. Mere detention -- might a routine traffic stop eventually qualify?

Patriot Act bill would expand death penalty
WASHINGTON - The House bill that would reauthorize the USA Patriot Act anti-terrorism law includes several little-noticed provisions that would dramatically transform the federal death penalty system, allowing smaller juries to decide on executions and giving prosecutors the ability to try again if a jury deadlocks on sentencing. The bill also triples the number of terrorism-related crimes eligible for the death penalty

Brain scan 'sees hidden thoughts'
April 25, 2005
Scientists say they can read a person's unconscious thoughts using a simple brain scan.

Dr Adrian Burgess, from the department of cognitive neuropsychology at Imperial College London, said: "The technique is bringing out information that has not been available from MRI scans before.

"It could potentially be used to find out people's latent attitudes and beliefs that they are not aware of.

"You could use it to detect people's prejudices, intuition and things that are hidden and influence our behaviour."


At least the most a terrorist will do is kill you.


I may have been off base in not realizing that this was not more recent. For that I apologize.

However, it is still things like this that make me worry, and you fellas don't seem to care if it passed or not.

It seems that many of you guys think your right to driving to work (technically a privelege, but hey) is more important than freedom of assembly. Not too mention that I would love to see a protest for conservative causes...would you follow every law to the letter?

The right to protest, even if they arrest you (which they always do) is something that should never be thought of as an act of terrorism. It is sickening. Besides this, I have a right to practice civil disobediance. They have a right to arrest me, and throw my ass in jail. But a right to treat me like a terrorist? And get a 25 year sentence? I didn't make the shit up. Yea, it didn't pass. But why is something like this presented?


I sympathize with you here, because it was a stupid proposal. But don't do yourself a disservice by being so naive.

All sorts of weird crap gets proposed because all sorts fo weird people get elected somewhere.

For example, there was legislation proposed in Maine that stated that if the gene that determines homosexuality is ever isolated and recognized, and if and when parents achieve the ability to view their child's genetic makeup while in the womb, it would be against the law to have an otherwise legal abortion if the decision to abort was made on the basis that the fetus was going to be gay based on the genetic profile.

I joke that this is the mother of all political questions - but in reality, someone proposed this as state law.



That's some fucked up stuff.


The right to free passage and the right to protest are equal. The right to free passage should not be confused with the priveledge of being licenced to operate a motor vehicle.

Well, If you consider protest a form of communication, and you get your point across better and more clearly when you follow the rules, it would make sense to follow the rules- Wouldn't it?

From what I know of the local republican movement, they gather in town halls, churches, and similar halls- as permitted, to plan then carry out their plans with thee local govt. when it is time to vote. Seems a lot more effective than staging protests that shut down businesses and streets, cause havoc, and get everybody pissed off. The problem with converging en-mass on an entire city is that people don't get pissed off and act toward the cause of the protest, they get pissed off and act against the protestors.

The protestors are their own worst enemy and detrimental to their own cause. That is not anybodys problem but their own.


No need to apologize!

The people who should be apologizing are the ones who are ready to watch our basic freedoms slip away one at a time and do nothing about it!


People have the right to protest whatever they want, but they don't have the right to "disrupt business, transportation, schools, government, or free assembly". Sounds like a good bill!