Nov 18, 2016 - Washington State Republican Senator to Introduce New Crime Bill Targeting Protestors as “Economic Terrorist”
Olympia, WA- On Wednesday November 16th, Washington State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, stated that he is crafting a bill that would create a new crime of “economic terrorism” targeting protestors.
If passed, the new bill would allow for felony prosecution of protestors who, “block streets, cause property damage, threaten jobs and put public safety at risk.”
Further it would allow for 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.”
From a news release on his webpage, “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. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale.
Ericksen has prepared a bill for next year’s legislative session that 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’s measure would create a class C felony when protests aimed at causing economic disruption jeopardize human life and property. It would not apply in cases of lawful and protected activities, such as strikes and picketing.
The penalties apply not just to participants but also to those who fund, organize, sponsor or otherwise encourage others to commit acts of economic terrorism. Accomplices may be required to pay restitution up to triple the amount of economic damage.
“We are not just going after the people who commit these acts of terrorism,” Ericksen said. “We are going after the people who fund them. Wealthy donors should not feel safe in disrupting middle class jobs.”
According to the Seattle Times, “Ericksen said he was aiming at punishing environmentalists, tribal activists and others who have obstructed oil and coal trains, pipelines and similar projects.”
Erickson plans on introducing the bill during the upcoming legislative session. While Republicans control the state Senate, Democrats hold a slim majority in the Washington State House and Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee was just re-elected to his second term.
Recent actions in Washington State that would be classified as felonies under the proposed “economic terrorist” bill include actions held at the Shell and Tesoro Refineries on Swinomish lands in Anacortes WA and the #ShellNo actions in Seattle to stop the Shell oil drilling rig the “Polar Pioneer” from drilling in the arctic.