Protesters Shut Down House Committee Meeting Over HF 322

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Angry protesters forced a Minnesota House committee to briefly recess Tuesday morning after it passed a bill that would let local governments sue protesters to recover law enforcement costs.

The measure passed 9-to-6 along party lines in the House Civil Law and Data Practices Policy Committee. Immediately after, an angry crowd erupted in protest over the bill, known as House File 322.

Among the protesters shouting at lawmakers was John Thompson, a friend of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed last summer by a St. Anthony police officer. “Shame on you,” Thompson yelled at lawmakers. “You should leave, because those seats you’re sitting in will be replaced by somebody who represents us.”

Sponsored by Rep. Nick Zerwas (R – Elk River), HF 322 would allow local police departments to charge protesters for the costs associated with demonstrations. He is also behind a bill that would make penalties harsher for protesters who shut down traffic on highways.

“If you violate the law, if you block traffic, if you block access to a building, that’s what this bill is for,” Zerwas said.

The Republican-backed legislation comes on the heels of several high-profile protests in Minnesota, following the police shootings of Philando Castile and Jamar Clark. The large-scale protests have included demonstrations at the Mall of America, on several highways and an occupation of a north Minneapolis police station.

Black Lives Matter Minneapolis, as well as lawmakers concerned about the legislation, say the bills appear to target protesters in urban areas, particularly citizens and groups concerned about race and equity.

One Democratic lawmaker, Rep. John Lesch of St. Paul, expressed concern Tuesday that peaceful protesters – such as those participating in last weekend’s Women’s March — would be on the hook for law enforcement expenses.

“They would be liable for those costs and this is the fundamental flaw in this law,” he said.

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Comments

One Comment

  1. Tim Neumann says:

    Initiate a class action lawsuit on behalf of all those affected when highways, public transportation, businesses are targeted by protesters.

    1. Funny how all you fascist conservatives are so ‘patriotic’ but know spit about the US Constitution! About the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  2. A slight traffic delay is minor compared to the arrogant taking of life by thug police! It is a constitutional right to assemble and protest. Is this the GOP new Sharia law?

    1. James Ray says:

      “..A slight traffic delay is minor ..”…no it’s not…it’s a violation of the first amendment to the constitution…the free association. By impeding people to freely go where they want is an offense. You want to protest…fine…but once you’ve blocked a person you can…and should be arrested, and subsequently sued.

  3. Black Lies Matter should be considered a terrorist organization. They called for the death of police officers. They threaten local and state governments. Stats mean nothing to them. It is all about Progressive Racism. Their in your face rants are full of lies. They use their race as a weapon to avoid being arrested. Why wasn’t this mentally ill man arrested for disorderly conduct? He has done this in many jurisdictions. He needs help. The Castile family has distanced themselves from this hateful, dangerous, man. Peggy Scott is a friend to BLM. Hopefully they visit her home soon.

    1. The GOP should be considered a terrorist organization and was deemed so by Noam Chomsky https://sputniknews.com/us/201605181039781653-chomsky-gop-biggest-threat-history/

  4. It is crazy that the story doesn’t quote the bill as introduced. Here is the relevant language:

    “(a) A person is civilly liable for public safety response costs if the person is convicted
    of participating in an unlawful assembly under section 609.705, being present at an unlawful
    assembly under section 609.715, or committing a public nuisance under section 609.74.”

    So, for civil liability, one could have to first be convicted of breaking civil disorder laws that have been on the books for decades. It does not “allow local police departments to charge protesters for the costs associated with demonstrations” in the absence of convictions.

    1. Funny how none of you conservatives who claim to be so patriotic knows spit about the constitution. About the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

  5. so get a permit. permit fees cover the cost of law enforcement keeping order for the marchers and against them as well.

  6. Jose Ortega says:

    Rep. Nick Zerwas is a good Republican with common sense. Let’s sue the criminal protesters so we can recover our law enforcement costs.

    1. How is it all you conservatives claim to be so patriotic yet you know absolutely nothing about the US Constitution? About the First Amendment. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

      1. Jose Ortega says:

        The right to assemble peacefully is protected along with unpopular speech. Civil insurrection is not protected. When you disrupt a highway, shopping mall, airport, etcetera, you are committing a flagrant violation of the law. It’s no longer a peaceful assembly – it crosses the line and becomes civil insurrection, which by the way, puts lives and property in jeopardy. What happens when you organize a flash mob to protest in MOA and upon your arrival an elderly woman becomes frightened and drops dead from a heart attack? What about her rights? You’re just going to trample all over her and say, “no big deal she’s just collateral damage”? What if you blocked a highway and I was trying to rush my sick cat to the animal hospital, and my cat died because you blocked the highway. What are you going to say to me? “F.U and your cat? You people are so dead set on being right that you will step over bodies to get what you want. No more! When you cause collateral damage you will pay for it. If you can’t pay our city fathers will garnish your wages/salaries. If you own a home they’ll seize the asset and force a foreclosure. If you cause harm to me I’ll instruct my attorney to go after you as a group, and individually with a vengeance. My attorney will give you no mercy. I will instruct him to squeeze out every last cent. I don’t care how long it takes – I’ll go after every asset you have, i.e., your house, car, furniture, clothes, pots and pans, tvs, anything of major and minor value. The sheriff will auction it off and present me with a check which I will promptly endorse and hand over (in its entirety) to the Jewish Federation of Minneapolis.

        Govern yourselves accordingly.

        1. Jose Ortega says:

          Brian Novotny: All that I stated above is of course purely hypothetical. I am not remotely suggesting you per se would break the law. However, should there come a time when I am adversely affected by the actions of an unruly mob, only then will I see every available legal remedy.

  7. One good thing, you have a Democrat Governor so he will almost assuredly veto this.

  8. Jeff Mannino says:

    this bill does not make any new laws.. this just happens to increase penalties for already illegal protests such as the 94 shutdowns and the 35 shutdowns.. These people arguing against this are either ignorant or bought and paid for

  9. Jose Ortega says:

    HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA the violent protesters will be sued and the court will award a judgment which can be lawfully perfected by seizing their home and/or garnishing their wages/salary. That will teach those lawless goons a valuable lesson. The BLMers and NAACP are screaming foul because our elected officials are sick and tired of their nefarious behavior that disrupts the lives of ordinary law abiding citizens.

  10. Kally White says:

    I say again, We are not in Obama land anymore Toto… Did you forget, your new “commander in chief” Donald Trump now controls DHS, and the Department of Justice. I would fight tooth and nail to protect the “right of the people peaceably to assemble”. But blocking highways, trains etc is not peaceable. We will not have a left wing political party supported by thugs that use violence to get their way. In few months, Trump will declare BLM a terrorist organization. All you loud mouths have forgotten about many people who do not live in big cities, their group is AVM. All Votes Matter.

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