The Republicans have introduced a bill to punish protesters.  The bill sets up retaliation against protesters by “Prohibiting any state loan, grant, or assistance for persons convicted of offense related to protest, demonstration, rally, civil unrest, or march.”

While we don't expected it to pass, this bill is still quite dangerous because it will normalize the idea that it is acceptable to limit protesting and to open the door to make protesting basically ineffectual.  It will limit the ability for people to seek redress and it will chip away at our rights to hold institutions accountable.  Put this together with the bills limiting voting and it is not that hard to realize how this all fits together. It sets up the possibility of one-party rule and the means by wish to ensure that no one speaks out against it.  This I know, may be looking too deep into the future but it must be acknowledged as one possibility, one road that we can take.

As a people our only way to ensure that we don’t take any steps further into this reality is to be watchful and aware of the messages that are out there and to counter them with the idea that WE are all better when we work together to make equality for all a reality, where protest is a guaranteed right, where all of us can vote.

The Senate had its first hearing on this bill (SF2381) on April 7, 2021.  It has been sent to the Judiciary and Public Safety Finance and Policy committee.  You can see its members here.  It is mostly made up of Republicans.  However, we do have two Democrats in that committee.  Karla Bigham and Sandra Pappas.

The House also a companion bill that was heard January 28, 2021. It has been sent to the Public Safety and Criminal Justice Reform Finance and Policy Committee.  The committee members include people of color and many who understand the situation with how these laws maybe applied.  This committee also includes a new legislator that is also an immigration attorney.

If you wish to keep track of this bill you can do so on MyBills and also by checking the Hot List of bills

--Patricia Parez-Jenkins, Issues and Programs Director, SD53

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