New Texas 'Anti-Riot' Laws Echo Nationwide Trend Of Ramped-Up Protest Restrictions, Punishments
In the past year, legislators have introduced more than 100 proposals in 33 different states that would restrict the right to protest, including in Texas where Gov. Greg Abbott recently signed two new protest-related bills into law.
Research finds that the rate at which this kind of legislation is introduced has increased significantly since last May when Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd, resulting in largely peaceful protests against police brutality and racial injustice nationwide.
Supporters call these kinds of proposals "anti-riot" while opponents say they're "anti-protest." Some are specific to protest-related activity in that they seek to create new consequences for such action — including incentivizing greater police presence at protests.
What protest-related bills were proposed in Texas, and what were the end results? How do Texas' new laws compare to those in other GOP-controlled states legislatures?
What are the potential implications of laws that aim to restrict or punish protestors? What questions do they raise regarding First Amendment rights? Are they constitutional?
- Jolie McCullough, criminal justice reporter for The Texas Tribune
- Nora Benavidez, director of PEN America’s U.S. Free Expression Programs
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*This interview was recorded on Monday, June 7.