Editor’s observe: The pursuing is an edited model of College Hill resident Tim Kraus’ testimony to the Ohio Residence Criminal Justice Committee on March 17 about Property Invoice 22.
I am pretty alarmed by the selection of legislative charges quite a few senators and Dwelling associates have released in their respective bodies during this legislative session concerning the criminalization of civilian tranquil protest.
One particular of the defining features of our American democracy is the idea that citizens have the suitable to publicly and peacefully assemble to protest or categorical their considerations concerning any challenge or grievance they may well have about the conduct of their government and their law enforcement. This provision in our Structure is central to what we all are about. Our founders noticed match to contain this suitable in our governing paperwork because they had a rightful worry for the abuse of governmental electrical power and the enforcement of the legislation of that governmental power.
What sets us aside from other governments that are more authoritarian in nature is our authorized means to peacefully stand up versus unjust laws and the unjust execution or enforcement of legal guidelines. To protest, in the initial Greek, usually means to advertise and testify for or against something. Our state was established on protest for the right to self-govern, and it has constantly been produced much better by protest in the course of our history.
What Household Monthly bill 22 and the other pending costs are intending to do is to slim the definition and restrict the boundaries of authorized protest in buy to criminalize numerous aspects of peaceful assembly for addressing fears and grievances. This has almost nothing to do with keeping an orderly and civil modern society and every thing to do with silencing and squashing constitutional civil dissent. This is an attempt to establish authoritarian measures that will restrict civilian general public discourse about timely challenges and give arbitrary electricity to criminalize and incarcerate persons who convey unpopular views in the eyes of regulation enforcement.
The wording in HB 22 that produces felony penalties for diverting the consideration of legislation enforcement is exceptionally obscure, giving regulation enforcement a blank examine in pinpointing what habits is regarded as “diverting.” We are now living in a globe wherever law enforcement in many locations in our nation has tested by itself out of manage and over and above the power of law to reign in its arbitrary energy. This invoice would increase to that arbitrary electric power.
We have noticed time and all over again all through our record and in the latest instances where by law enforcement has been the dilemma that has incited civil unrest, not the moderating force of civility that restores purchase. This is nothing at all new. Our founders recognized this tendency on the portion of legislation enforcement and set checks and balances against capricious and arbitrary powers. That is why our legislative bodies exist in separation from our executive bodies in authorities at all stages. As legislators, your work is to safeguard the citizens against this type of abusive electrical power, not to hand around vague and quite subjective discretion into the arms of regulation enforcement.
As an educator, I taught United States Background and Govt in secondary and college settings. I have good reverence for the efforts, as imperfect as they have been, that Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Benjamin Franklin and the relaxation of our founders place into producing our technique of self-governance. It has served us nicely, and it has developed and been improved as a result of conflict and disagreement over the earlier 234 many years. In that time, our place has, on quite a few situations, produced major errors in thinking that the community expression of issues and grievances about how we govern ourselves and how we police ourselves is a dilemma to be crushed and silenced. Each individual time we have accomplished that, we have been established erroneous.
Our nation thrives on the peaceful expression of dissenting thoughts and actions for modify. Something that tends to make that harder diminishes us as a nation. We currently have all the legal applications we want to management violence when and if it erupts in a protest, but this invoice is not addressing that. It is criminalizing tranquil and authorized protest.
We are at a significant juncture in the historical past of our state exactly where we are making an attempt to come to a decision what type of democracy we want to be. Rules like HB 22 say really plainly that some of us are ready to abandon democracy in favor of authoritarian styles of governance that hand more than indiscriminate ability to individual legislation enforcement staff who, in the warmth of the instant, can ascertain the legality of someone’s peaceful protest. This opens the door for pretty discriminatory therapy, not established by regulation, but by the subjective interpretation of one human being with legislation enforcement electrical power.
This is no way to operate our democracy, and it will lead to serious abuses of authoritarian power. Jefferson, Madison, Franklin, and their buddies warned us of these types of excessive attempts to manage, regulate and crush social and political dissent by keeping their very own vigorous debates about it. And then they designed a doc to keep people points of see in tension with a single a further.
Remember to, do not make a mockery of that document.
Tim Kraus life in School Hill and is a retired educator and former president of the Cincinnati Federation of Lecturers.