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WV CAG and allies are opposing a bill before the legislature that would discourage peaceful protest and stop people from criticizing the powerful. HB 4615 would create new criminal and civil penalties for conduct around “critical infrastructure facilities” that could be applied to individuals and organizations involved in peaceful protest.
Just like voting or contacting elected officials, peaceful protest is an important way for everyday people to influence how the government makes decisions about our air, water, and land; when we go to war; and other issues. The right to peacefully assemble is protected under the First Amendment and has been an important way to make change in the history of our country.
The House of Delegates held a hearing on the bill Monday, and will be voting on the bill later this week. Please call or email your delegate(s) and tell them to oppose HB 4615.
HB 4615 is built on intimidation, but peaceful protest is a hallmark of democracy — we have the right to raise our voices, oppose the actions of industry and our government, and support our ideals.
Stand up for democracy by contacting your delegate(s). Tell them to say NO to this intimidation and protect our right to peacefully assemble. Tell them:
- HB 4615 is un-American. A basic right for Americans is the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of expression in the country. Protest was a foundational tenant for American democracy, and since our founding days — from the Boston Tea Party to the Blackjewel miner’s occupation — protest has been essential in raising awareness about injustices to bring about change.
- HB 4615 is unconstitutional. The right to peacefully assemble is protected under the First Amendment.
- HB 4615 is unnecessary. Our current laws on trespass and destruction of property are adequate and already encompass all “critical infrastructure.”
For more on why HB 4615 is a threat to democracy click here (for an info-graphic) and here (for a fact sheet).
Take action today then make plans to join us Monday, February 17 at the Capitol for Good Government Lobby Day in support of our Pro-Democracy, Anti-Corruption Platform. Several bills that advance the goals of the platform have been introduced. Here’s a list of the bills and their status.