The First Amendment doesn’t only give us the right to free speech, freedom of the press and expression of religion, but also a right to peaceably assemble and to petition the government over grievances. And boy do the American people have a lot of grievances! We have grievances over the mass surveillance state that has been handed down from the suave face of neoliberalism to the aging hands of a fame chaser! We have grievances over the next phase of regime change wars to attack countries we don’t need to for the past 40 years. And we have grievances over the lack of Democracy in America because of the decades of oligarchical takeover. We also have grievances over the winners of the American Idol, Survivor and the celebrities hanging out with war criminals game!
Since the start of the Trump Administration, there has been an increase in the number of protests we have seen all across the country! And to be clear, this is a very good thing and I do recognize that this is a result of a large amount of people that were startled out of complacency and over corrected that by diving in head first. Regardless, I’m glad more people have joined in on participating in politics! But this also has had some push back from the Corporate Status Quo that are concerned about these demonstrations and petitions of grievances!
Since 2017 there’s been a rise of laws that have criminalized protests. And really we should’ve seen illogical laws like this one coming. I mean we are talking about a government that made a plant illegal because it has medicinal qualities and exponentially increases chill vibes! And they’ve systematically attacked & imprisoned people for having extra melanin in their skin and the increased ability to absorb sunlight. The Critical Infrastructure Act claims that protests, even peaceful, non-violent acts of civil disobedience are now felony charges. And this might sound like a Republican measure but it’s got bipartisan support! Democrats in Louisiana and Wisconsin have pushed for and put these Anti-Protest laws in place!
In Louisiana 16 pipeline protestors were charged under this law. They could face 5 years in prison and $1000 fine. In Wisconsin it’s 6 years in prison and up to $10,000 in fines! In Colorado protestors can face up to 18 months in prison and $100,000 fine! The newest addition to kicking the constitution in the dick is the state of West Virginia, which just introduced a Critical Infrastructure law where protestors will face up to 3 years in Prison and $1000 fine. And in an effort to one up on these other states, any organization that sponsors or supports these protestors will face up to $5000 in fines, which would effective cripple any small mom & pop environmental protection group! Which is most Environmental Protection Groups! I don’t think there’s a Walmart of Environmentalism, and if there is, they should rollback Climate Change a little faster!
If you noticed a pattern in the way these laws are structured that’s because there is one and deliberately put in place. The pattern is time in prison and a large fine that most average people can’t afford and then fine anyone in solidarity too! And not only that, but North Carolina has an Extraordinary Event Law, which lets police officers stop you and search people they deem are doing extraordinary things. And it’s not extraordinary like crawling on walls or shooting laser beams from their eyes. It’s a vague description that used by cops to harass regular citizens.
This is basically ‘Stop & Frisk’ the Protest edition! Like the case of a black man going to a Police Brutality protest was stopped and searched because he was carrying a bottle with water in it! It was extraordinary because I guess cops didn’t realize that black people drank water, because their training had told them they only drink grape soda. Somewhere Michael Bloomberg is ejaculating non-stop at the thought of this law being used not just to harass black people, but also protestors!
The conservative Koch Industries funded lobbying group, American Legislative Exchange Council or ALEC basically wrote a boilerplate law for all these States to implement. Basically the law states that you can’t criticize or protest any corporation in the oil & gas world because what they’re doing is working on critical infrastructure. Kinda sounds like these oil & gas CEOs are a bunch of snowflakes. And if they continue building pipelines and perpetuate Climate Change, they’ll be the only snowflakes around, considering Winter would disappear. So it’s official you guys, we’ve started a War on Winter and much like every other war, we the people are the real victims!
So what exactly are these Critical Infrastructures? According to ALEC, and this is directly from their website, Critical Infrastructures are: A petroleum or alumina refinery, An electrical power generating facility, substation, switching station, electrical control center or electric power lines and associated equipment infrastructure, A chemical, polymer or rubber manufacturing facility, A water intake structure, water treatment facility, wastewater treatment plant or pump station, A natural gas compressor station, A liquid natural gas terminal or storage facility, Wireline and wireless telecommunications infrastructure, A port, railroad switching yard, railroad tracks, trucking terminal or other freight transportation facility, A gas processing plant, including a plant used in the processing, treatment or fractionation of natural gas or natural gas liquids, A transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station, A steelmaking facility that uses an electric arc furnace to make steel, A facility identified and regulated by the United States Department of Homeland Security Chemical Facility Anti-Terrorism Standards (CFATS) program, A dam that is regulated by the state or federal government, A natural gas distribution utility facility including, but not limited to, pipeline interconnections, a city gate or town border station, metering station, aboveground piping, a regular station and a natural gas storage facility, or A crude oil or refined products storage and distribution facility including, but not limited to, valve sites, pipeline interconnections, pump station, metering station, below or aboveground pipeline or piping and truck loading or offloading facility; or Any aboveground portion of an oil, gas, hazardous liquid or chemical pipeline, tank, railroad facility or other storage facility that is enclosed by a fence, other physical barrier or is clearly marked with signs prohibiting trespassing, that are obviously designed to exclude intruders.
It’s pretty thorough, so let’s break it down a bit. So this critical infrastructure law doesn’t just make protesting pipelines and oil & gas companies illegal, but has included the telecoms in there too. They included “wireless telecommunications” and “transmission facility used by a federally licensed radio or television station” to probably ensure we see more of the same propaganda they want us to and we can’t say it’s propaganda because that’d hurt the feelings of the Telecom CEOs! So if we were to protest the expansion of certain large Internet Service Providers in one of the 20 states this laws is present, then activists would be fined and imprisoned. This law makes Net Neutrality illegal. And is it just me or did they get kinda snarky and bitchy at the end? “clearly marked with signs prohibiting trespassing, that are obviously designed to exclude intruders”
I mean we can kinda snarky back to them. Obviously it’s been proven that these pipelines will leak and get into the water supply and poison average citizens. Obviously the more fossil fuels and oil we burn the more the planet will be fucked! Obviously these protesters aren’t causing the level of damage that these pansy ass oil & gas companies are with their drilling and releasing toxins into the air! Obviously if you see so many people against what you’re doing you should listen them and start looking alternative sources of energy instead of filling your pockets full of cash, while our pockets and the earth gets a hole burned through it! Obviously a pipeline and large oddly specific list isn’t really critical to our infrastructure but the water you’re willing to poison is, you freshman biology class failures!
Your exclusionary corporate policy is what’s wrong with America. If you aren’t doing anything terrible in these structures, then you would have an inclusive policy. And if these corporations aren’t really doing anything wrong then they shouldn’t worry about the protestors. IF you’re innocent, why act like you’re guilty. If you’re really innocent, then you should take these protestors on a tour of your facilities with their cameras! These Critical Infrastructure Laws only silence those that are shedding light into the realities of these corporations immoral, unethical behaviors. But then again, if the CEO’s of these corporations are acting on a religious mission it does add up considering God did banish Lucifer for asking a question! So basically snowflakes go back to beginning of time! Authoritarians are so damn sensitive.
At this point it’s really hard to ignore that our legislators are bought and sold by the corporate sector. These laws are literally made by the Koch Brothers, sold to politicians and enforced on the behalf of the elites. And despite one of them being dead, he’s still trying to fuck the Middle Class from beyond the grave with his legacy of black sludge. They have literally made a law to protect inanimate objects instead of human beings! The only thing that matters is cashing in on our own destruction!
And where the hell are the Free Speech warriors that come out of the woodwork when society says they don’t want to support racist comedians? I haven’t heard a peep from these fair-weather defenders of the First Amendment! It must be a tough choice for some of these people, because it’s a white CEO protecting a gray metal pipeline that carries a black liquid!
An aspect these out of touch robber Barrons haven’t considered is that if you criminalize the peaceful option then people will resort to the other way change is driven, through violent actions. It leaves people with no other choice! The system is putting people in jail for having conversations and discourse. But that’s what they want though! If they bring out the hoses and the dogs on people marching, making speeches, creating art and making signs & slogans around a pipeline, it’s too reminiscent of one of the most racist eras in American history that really makes a lot of white people look like assholes. But if you claim that they’re going ignite violence from the slogans and signs then you are just being proactive, secure and getting ahead of the crime and balls deep into dystopia.
As I mentioned earlier this law is just pushback of more people getting involved the fight against injustice. What happened in North Dakota with DAPL wasn’t a one off, it sparked a movement. It showed us that if we come together, we can be unstoppable. These laws show us that America is a Corporate Oligarchy and Trump wasn’t the one that started it, but he’s carrying the torch left behind by his predecessors. It’s time we picked the torches from our predecessors too! These laws are proof that the elites are scared and that we’re stronger than they think they are. So lets support these protestors and push back against these unconstitutional, authoritarian laws!
Krish Mohan is a socially conscious, Indian standup comedian and writer who regularly tours the country. He performs at small theaters, bars, comedy clubs, colleges, DIY and house venues. With his quirky attitude, charming personality, and intelligent humor, Krish captivates and engages audiences of all backgrounds, tackling hot button topics like race, religion, war, immigration, while adding an optimistic, philosophical & sociological twist!