If Republicans in Arizona’s senate have their way, police in that state could soon have the power to seize assets and property from protesters, the Arizona Capitol Times reports.
By: James Holbrooks
This article first appeared at ANTIMEDIA
From a February 22 article:
“Claiming people are being paid to riot, Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.
“SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.
“But the real heart of the legislation is what Democrats say is the guilt by association — and giving the government the right to criminally prosecute and seize the assets of everyone who planned a protest and everyone who participated.”
Essentially, under this bill cops could arrest anyone at a demonstration that suddenly turns violent, however peaceful it might’ve started. They would even be able to target people who had nothing to do the property damage.
Stephen Lemons, writing for the Phoenix New Times, covered a hearing on S.B. 1142 by Arizona’s Senate Judiciary Committee last week.
Highlighting that certain senate Democrats “noted the obvious: that public protests often involve different groups with varying tactics,” he pointed out that, hypothetically, peaceful protesters could be held responsible “for the violent actions of a different faction or of individuals who act out while others remain calm.”
But it gets even worse than that, as the Arizona Capitol Times pointed out Wednesday: “By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events.”
Planning events. Meaning cops will have the authority to investigate activists before the demonstrations even take place.
This is what Republican state senator Sonny Borrelli, the author of S.B. 1142, called targeting “the money source” in his defense of the bill before the committee meeting last week.
Citing the conservative notion that a legion of privately funded progressive protesters is clogging up governmental works all over the country, Borrelli said the law would go after those “paid to go out and create this damage.”
And if it takes cops infiltrating political groups on the taxpayers’ dime — on the razor-thin pretext of maybe preventing a potentially violent demonstration down the road — so be it, at least according to Republican attitudes in Arizona.