Protesting is not a crime in Iowa (yet)

Tell the Iowa House of Representatives and Gov. Kim Reynolds: Don't criminalize protesters

The petition to the Iowa House of Representatives and Gov. Kim Reynolds reads:
"Iowa's laws already protect critical infrastructure. Do not criminalize dissent. Reject S.F. 2235/H.F. 2394."

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Dear 5849376,

Tell the Iowa House of Representatives and Gov. Kim Reynolds: Don't criminalize protesters

Hundreds of Iowans protested the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline over the last two years, joining peaceful gatherings along the pipeline route. Now the pipeline's developer, Energy Transfer Partners, is pushing for a new state bill that would threaten peaceful protesters with felony convictions.

Criminalizing protesters is dangerous and unacceptable. The Iowa state Senate has already passed this politically motivated bill, and the House could pass it any day. We must make sure that state representatives hear Iowans' opposition loud and clear before the bill comes up for a vote.

Tell the Iowa House of Representatives and Gov. Kim Reynolds: Do not criminalize dissent. Reject S.F. 2235/H.F. 2394. Click here to sign the petition.

To target environmental protesters, the bill's authors created a new crime, "critical infrastructure sabotage," making it punishable by up to 25 years in prison and fines of $85,000 to $100,000.1 They defined sabotage very broadly, referring to acts "intended to cause substantial interruption or impairment" of public services related to critical infrastructure.2

Prosecutors could use this broad language to target nonviolent civil disobedience, such as a peaceful sit-in, or even activity protected by the First Amendment, such as a picket line.

Although the bill is supposedly aimed at protecting infrastructure, Iowa already has laws against vandalism, property damage, trespassing and any other offenses related to sabotage. This redundant and politically motivated new law would only chill free expression protected by the First Amendment and demonize those expressing dissent.

Tell the Iowa House of Representatives and Gov. Kim Reynolds: Do not criminalize dissent. Reject S.F. 2235/H.F. 2394. Click here to sign the petition.

Iowa's bill is part of the Republican establishment's nationwide assault on dissent. The shady groups lobbying for the bill include not only Energy Transfer Partners, but also Koch Industries, the American Petroleum Institute and Valero Energy.3

It is based on a model bill released in December by the extreme right-wing lobby group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).4 More than 15 state legislatures have introduced anti-protest bills in the past year.5

The only purpose of these bills is to intimidate protesters and quell the growing opposition to the destruction of our climate, our natural environment and our democracy. We must act now to stop this assault on our First Amendment rights.

Tell the Iowa House of Representatives and Gov. Kim Reynolds: Do not criminalize dissent. Reject S.F. 2235/H.F. 2394. Click the link below to sign the petition:

https://act.credoaction.com/sign/iowa-dissent?t=8&akid=27804%2E3291973%2EGJYxHF

Thanks for fighting back,

Brandy Doyle, Campaign Manager
CREDO Action from Working Assets

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References:

  1. Iowa Legislature, Senate File 2235," accessed March 20, 2018.
  2. Ibid.
  3. Steve Horn, "As Trump unfurls infrastructure plan, Iowa bill seeks to criminalize pipeline protests," DeSmog Blog, Jan. 31, 2018.
  4. Ibid.
  5. American Civil Liberties Union, "Anti-protest bills around the country," accessed March 21, 2018.

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