The Trump/Pence government has been step by step criminalizing dissent and bludgeoning the truth with worse to come. Stripping away basic rights and the rule of law is at the core of fascism.
What they have done
- Over 230 protesters arrested at Trump’s inauguration were charged with multiple felonies, including federal riot charges, and 230 defendants face up to 70 or more years in prison. The government is now demanding massive and detailed information on visitors to a website used to organize those protests. The site’s web hosting provider says complying would amount to handing over roughly 1.3 million visitor IP addresses.
- U.S. agents now search cell phones and other electronic devices of people traveling internationally at a rate four times higher than in 2015. The head of Department of Homeland Security said visitors to the U.S. should be required to give up their online passwords and submit to social media searches.
- Trump has systematically accused the press of “fake news” and being an “enemy of the people”; refuses to hold regular press briefings; threatens individual reporters and news outlets; and has tweeted a video of himself beating up a CNN reporter.
- Trump and his spokespeople have attacked artistic expression ranging from comedians to a staging of Julius Caesar by NYC’s Shakespeare in the Park featuring a Trump-like title character.
- Attorney General Jeff Sessions has launched an aggressive campaign to identify and prosecute people who leak information to the press and opposes a federal “shield” law to protect journalists who refuse to disclose their sources.
What they said they will do
- After Edward Snowden, a government security contractor turned whistle-blower, revealed the vast U.S. spying on people’s communication, Trump and Pompeo, now the head of the CIA, called for Snowden’s execution.
- Trump has publicly stated he wants to expand the government’s surveillance apparatus, including restoring parts of the Patriot Act that have been amended. While still a senator, Jeff Sessions helped derail a Senate bill that would have required law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing stored electronic communications like emails.
- The Trump/Pence regime has discussed rewriting libel laws to allow suits against those who criticize government officials or leak unflattering information. After the New York Times published parts of Trump’s tax returns in December 2016, Corey Lewandowski, former Trump campaign manager, said the Times’ executive editor “should be in jail.”
- Trump reportedly told James Comey before firing him as FBI director that journalists should be jailed for publishing classified information.
- TSA proposed requiring airline travelers to take all books out of carry-on luggage for agents to inspect.
- Department of Homeland Security announced plans to expand the use of facial recognition cameras at airport boarding gates to scan all passengers leaving the U.S.—from seven major airports currently to all airports.
What they have unleashed nationally
- Trump supporters are systematically attacking academic freedom. They have targeted progressive professors with online threats and terror, and fascist goons have gone to campuses to spread hate and attack students and professors.
- Republican legislators in at least 19 states have introduced bills criminalizing protest in different ways in response to the massive anti-Trump demonstrations, and other states may follow suit. Some have already been passed into law.
- A proposed bill in Arizona redefines “rioting” to be included in the state’s racketeering laws, allowing the government to seize the assets of people who participate or help plan protests that turn violent.
- A proposed bill in the Alabama Senate criminalizes “mass picketing” aimed at blocking access to streets and highways, airports or train tracks, places of business, and private residences, as misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison and $2,500 in fines.
- Proposed laws in North Dakota, Tennessee, Florida, Texas, Rhode Island, and North Carolina make it legal to run over protesters as long as the driver claims it was an accident.
- A new Georgia law called the Back the Badge Act of 2017 criminalizes various acts of resisting police or jail authorities.
- Minnesota is considering bills that will increase penalties for blocking highways from misdemeanor to gross misdemeanor, with penalties of up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine. And they allow law enforcement or other government agencies to sue people convicted of unlawful assembly or public nuisance for the cost of government response to the protest.
- A proposed bill in Mississippi criminalizes “maliciously impeding traffic on a public road,” punishable by up to 5 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
- In Missouri a proposed bill makes it a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison for a protester to conceal “his or her identity with a robe, mask, or other disguise” while engaged in an unlawful assembly, and makes it a crime for two or more people to intentionally “impede vehicular traffic” by walking, standing, sitting, or lying on a public street or highway, punishable by up to 7 years in prison.
- North Dakota has increased penalties for “instigating a riot” from a Class C to Class B felony, with up to $20,000 in fines and 10 years in prison. Wearing a mask or hood to avoid identification or escape detention is now punishable by up to a year in prison and a $3,000 fine.
- An Oregon bill will expel students from their college or university if they participate in a violent “riot.”
- A Senate bill in Washington will criminalize “economic disruption,” defined as trying to influence government action by intimidation or coercion, blocking any vehicle or ship, or obstructing any oil pipeline, barge or power plant, with penalties ranging from 2 to 12 months in prison.
- In March 2017, a UN Special Rapporteur issued a report expressing concern about the impact these different bills and laws could have on free speech, assembly, and right of association.
- The National Rifle Association released a video attacking the New York Times, which ended with the warning, “We’re coming for you.”