Keep that Posterboard Ready
by Jamala Rogers
I was looking around the country, tracking the repressive legislation to squash legit protests and came to Wisconsin. I was shocked and
disappointed to find the place where I witnessed almost weekly protests at the capitol had already passed an ugly piece of legislature in 2019.
And signed by a Democratic governor! Wisconsinites, ya’ll got some ‘splaining to do.
One thing I know about folks in Wisconsin is that they love their protests. It is a valued right. Even though the university is right there, the protests
go far beyond the student population. So, what happened that the defenders of democracy let this one slip through?
I followed the money. It went straight to the deep pockets of the oil and energy industries. Now it’s a felony to “trespass” on their property despite
the need to confront the righteous issue such as the poisoning of the land and water by these environmental destroyers.
Laws like Wisconsin Act 33 have accelerated the passage and proposal of a plethora of legislation that is designed to put a chill on citizens’ right
to assembly. Sometimes in justified outrage. Many nonviolent actions could become felonies. This is the devilish handywork of the American
Legislative Exchange Council aka ALEC and the Boys in Blue aka law enforcement.
Sweeping the country is a wave of legislation that puts a chill on the freedom to assembly and engage in direct action. All but seven states have
considered and half of those have enacted some fashion of anti-protest laws to date. This includes typical kinds of protest tactics like trespassing
and blocking streets or government buildings. Recent versions of proposed bills will allow police departments to sue if their budgets are cut — as
in defund the police.
I haven’t seen anything that criminalizes storming and looting the nation’s Capitol. That’s because like most of the proposed legislation, there’s
already laws on the books to deal with the situation. What seems to be different is the scope is broadening for misdemeanor offenses and the
penalties are way harsher.
The right to protest is both a constitutional and human right. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights clearly addresses the issues of
assembly, freedom of speech and equal protection under the law. The country which beats its chest about being the beacon of democracy for the
world continues to inch toward a police state. It’s not always about trumpism when we have Democrats show up as co-conspirators to support
racist, anti-democratic policies and laws.
The country is coming out of a dark period under trump. It’s time to hit the reset button because we’re going to have to work twice as hard to get
ourselves out of the hole that he and his cronies have dug for us. A number of injustices have been inflicted upon citizens and we won’t suffer in
silence. The right to assemble is an organizing tool to give people direction. It’s also a valve that releases pent-up anger that oppressed people sit
Every state in the union is a target of the GOP strategy to silence and control the voices of resistance, especially those who are Black, Brown and
Red. What is happening is no longer done in the cover of darkness, it’s in our face — begging for our collective, organized response.
Author James Baldwin warned us all in his 1970 open letter to Angela Davis upon her capture: If we know, and do nothing, we are worse than the
murderers hired in our name…for, if they take you in the morning, they will be coming for us that night.