Republican Sen. Doug Ericksen announced plans Wednesday to introduce a bill that would criminalize illegal protests. Sen. Ericksen says the bill would focus protests aimed at “causing economic damage.”
“Washington needs to take a firm stand against illegal protests that block transportation and commerce, cause property damage, threaten jobs and put public safety at risk,” says state Sen. Ericksen, R-Ferndale in a release Wednesday. The bill would create a new crime of economic terrorism. The measure 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.
“I respect the right to protest, but when it endangers people’s lives and property, it goes too far,” Ericksen said. “Fear, intimidation and vandalism are not a legitimate form of political expression. Those who employ it must be called to account.”
Ericksen makes clear that the criminal penalties, making certain protests a class C felony when they are aimed at causing economic disruption, would not apply to lawful and protected activities such as strikes and picketing.