Protest bill creates crime of 'economic terrorism'

We're now hearing directly from the State Senator who's accused of wanting to "criminalize protests" in our state.

Seattle has seen huge marches and rallies protesting the election of Donald Trump to the presidency.  They have been peaceful, but disruptive.

Now Ferndale Senator Doug Ericksen wants a law that would make protests a class C felony, if they become what he calls “economic terrorism.”

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“Nothing in the Preventing Economic Terrorism Act in any way impacts a person's right to protest peacefully,” Ericksen said.

The Ericksen bill creates a new crime called “economic terrorism." It criminalizes illegal protests aimed at causing economic damage and targets the unlawful disruption of transportation and commerce.

Senator Ericksen has oil refineries in his district and says he's really trying to go after people who try to block oil trains.

“This really comes from movements in Washington State and throughout the country (that) harm a person's ability to make a living.”

But Ericksen was deputy director of the Trump campaign in Washington. Asked if he was criminalizing dissent he responded, “Absolutely not, absolutely not.”

Seattle's Mayor Murray is skeptical.

“The last time I checked, protesting was a First Amendment right related to free speech.”

As for Seattle Councilmember Kshama Sawant's call for a nationwide shutdown when Donald Trump is inaugurated in January, Ericksen says he's not sure if that qualifies as economic terrorism. It depends, he says, on how it's done.

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