Every American has the right to protest. No American has the right to become violent while protesting.
Antifa protesters — those anti-fascists on the far left who believe they can do whatever they want when protesting — are not your run-of-the-mill, homemade-sign holders. They are the break, burn, vandalize and intimidate kind of protesters.
And since Donald Trump has become president, they’ve become a much bigger problem. Heck, even before Trump defeated Hillary Clinton, antifa protesters often clashed with Trump supporters prior to the 2016 election. Lately, they’ve been active in protests to push for the abolishment of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.
A new bill proposed by Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee aims to diffuse some of antifa’s power by taking away one of the biggest weapons: anonymity.
Bill HR 6054 would punish anyone wearing a mask or disguise who “injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates” someone else exercising a right guaranteed under the Constitution.
The bill say that any person caught in the act of property destruction while wearing a mask, they will have two years added to whatever terms of imprisonment they receive.
Meanwhile, the maximum additional penalty they would receive for any other crime against an individual is 15 years.
The bill was introduced by New York Rep. Daniel Donovan Jr.
“My bill expands upon long-standing civil rights statutes to make it a crime to deprive someone of Constitutionally-guaranteed protections while masked or disguised,” Donovan said in a statement..
“Americans have the natural right to speak and protest freely; it is not a right to throw Molotov cocktails and beat people while hiding behind a mask.”
Unmasking laws are not new. They’ve been used in the past to combat the Ku Klux Klan in states like Alabama and Georgia, which have had unmasking laws dating back more than half a century.
Not surprisingly, those on the far left are outraged over the bill.
“This is another draconian measure to actually criminalize dissent in the United States,” Scott Crow, a former antifa organizer and author, told CNN. “Because the law, even if it doesn’t explicitly state ‘leftists who mask up,’ that’s who the largest potential target of the law is, far more than white nationalists.”
Crow believes the law will do little to discourage antifa protests. “If they take away the right to mask up, people will still do it anyway to fight against authoritarianism in any form,” he said.
One antifa member actually tried to claim leftist protesters don’t wear masks to intimidate, but as a means of self defense.
“In the current political climate, antifascists who speak out against fascism, racism, xenophobia, etc. are routinely harassed, threatened, and attacked by the far right, often supported by the police, who are notably exempted here,” Carmichael Monaco, a member of the Metropolitan Anarchist Coordinating Council, a New York City-based activist group, told Vice. “The wearing of a mask is an act of self-defense often necessary to ensure one’s right to free speech.”
Critics of the bill point their fingers at Republicans, but they don’t mention is that even some Democrats in California have denounced antifa protesters for their violent actions and proposed unmasking measures.
They also don’t mention that this bill would impose the same penalties on alt-right protesters, such as neo-Nazi groups and white supremacist groups — the same kind the antifa claim they are fervently against.
Everyone has the right to protest. Is it asking too much that everyone has the right to see who is causing the damage when — not if — an antifa protest gets out of hand?
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