Excerpt from Huffington Post | Read the story here.
The historic wave of protests sparked by the death of George Floyd has spurred a new debate over the legitimacy of political violence as some demonstrators have turned to vandalism, looting and setting fires in defiance of police brutality and racism.
But as last Friday’s demonstrations kicked off in Minneapolis ― where Floyd, a Black man, was killed by police officers ― Louisiana lawmakers some 2,500 miles south voted overwhelmingly to pass harsh new legislation cracking down on peaceful protests. The bill set a three-year mandatory minimum prison sentence with hard labor for protesters convicted of trespassing on fossil fuel and other infrastructure sites during a state of emergency like the one declared amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“When you have mass movements and a lot of people in the street, you see false arrests and heavy-duty charge stacking to get people to plead to lesser charges. … These laws are a gift to that type of prosecution. ”
— Mara Verheyden-Hilliard
Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the nonprofit Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, said the statute was known among lawyers and advocates as the “shoot-a-teacher law” because it was passed amid the West Virginia’s teachers strike.