News & Politics

WA State Lawmaker Proposes Creating New Crime, 'Economic Terrorism,' to Punish Violent Protesters

WA State Lawmaker Proposes Creating New Crime, 'Economic Terrorism,' to Punish Violent Protesters
Protesters block a street and stop traffic during a demonstration against President-elect Donald Trump, early Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A state senator from Washington state has proposed a new bill that would put left-wing protest movements out of business if passed. The bill would create a new crime of “economic terrorism,” making it a class C felony for protesters to “block streets, cause property damage, threaten jobs and put public safety at risk.”

Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said in a news release, “I respect the right to protest, but when it endangers people’s lives and property, it goes too far. Fear, intimidation and vandalism are not a legitimate form of political expression. Those who employ it must be called to account.”

Via Q13 Fox News:

Ericksen said the bill, which is being prepared for next year’s legislative session, would allow felony prosecution “of those who intentionally break the law in an attempt to intimidate or coerce private citizens or the government by obstructing economic activity.”

He didn’t indicate who would determine when protesters become economic terrorists.

Ericksen said the penalties would also apply “to those who fund, organize, sponsor or otherwise encourage others to commit acts of economic terrorism. Accomplices may be required to pay restitution up to triple the amount of economic damage.”

Erickson started drafting the bill well before the election of Donald Trump, according to Q13 reporter Brandi Kruise. “He started writing about three months ago to deal mostly with a protest that happened over oil trains,” she said. Erickson told Kruise that when people block train tracks, that should be called economic terrorism and punishable by a felony.

Most of the laws broken by protesters — such as disorderly conduct, failure to disperse, trespassing, and pedestrian interference — are misdemeanors that usually involve no jail time for offenders. Erickson’s law would turn some offenses into Class C felonies which are punishable by five years in prison or a fine of up to $10,000. This would throw a huge wrench in the protest activities of Seattle-area activists because they are known for blocking the streets.

Despite its obvious merits, Kruise said the chance of the bill passing is about zero percent because even if it got through the state legislature, the governor would almost certainly veto it.

“I think it’s unlikely that a city like Seattle would ever have officers enforce something like this,” Kruise said. “I just don’t think that’s in the nature of this city which has such a rich history of protests.”

The question is whether the city would rather protect law-breaking protesters or the residents and tourists who are victimized by their antics — because if there are no serious consequences for lawless behavior, it will continue.

Every state — especially deep-blue states like Oregon, Washington, Maryland, New York and California — needs laws like this to protect ordinary citizens and businesses from violent leftists and anarchists who take “protesting” way too far.