A Republican lawmaker in Washington state has proposed a new crime of "economic terrorism" to prosecute protesters who block streets, threaten jobs or endanger public safety.
State Sen. Doug Ericksen (R) said in a statement on Wednesday that he was preparing the bill for the next legislative session, KCPQ reported. The proposal comes after thousands of protesters took to the streets in opposition to President-elect Donald Trump.
“I respect the right to protest, but when it endangers people’s lives and property, it goes too far,” Ericksen said. “Fear, intimidation and vandalism are not a legitimate form of political expression. Those who employ it must be called to account.”
Under "economic terrorism" bill, protesters would be charged with a felony if they "intentionally break the law in an attempt to intimidate or coerce private citizens or the government by obstructing economic activity.”
Ericksen said that the law would also be extended "to those who fund, organize, sponsor or otherwise encourage others to commit acts of economic terrorism."
The so-called "accomplices" could be "required to pay restitution up to triple the amount of economic damage," Ericksen insisted.
“We are not just going after the people who commit these acts of terrorism,” the lawmaker warned. “We are going after the people who fund them. Wealthy donors should not feel safe in disrupting middle class jobs.”
ACLU of Washington spokesperson Doug Honig pointed out that the proposed law appeared to be "targeting civil disobedience as ‘terrorism.’"
"That’s the kind of excessive approach to peaceful protest that our country and state do not need," Honig explained. "Let’s keep in mind that civil rights protesters who sat down at lunch counters could be seen as ‘disrupting business’ and ‘obstructing economic activity,’ and their courageous actions were opposed by segregationists as trying to ‘coerce business and government.'”