Reader's View: Don't Criminalize Nonviolent Resistance

Dr. King honored those willing to take a moral stand: "The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood." He also affirmed that, "Property is intended to serve life, and no matter how much we surround it with rights and respect, it has no personal being. It is not man."

Yet the same week as the anniversary of King's death, our Legislature advanced a bill that would intimidate those who challenge injustices and assert that life takes precedence over property. The measure's short description: "Trespass to critical infrastructure liability and vicarious liability created, and crime for recruiting or educating individuals to trespass on or damage critical infrastructure created."

This bill threatens the constitutional rights of free speech and assembly, targeting those who protest controversial projects by private corporations like pipelines. Not only would this bill increase penalties for such trespass as a peaceful sit-in; it would criminalize support for those who sit in. Any congregation or civic group that invites "water protectors" to speak and any group that studies the civil disobedience of Dr. King, Gandhi, or Thoreau could be accused of "aiding or advising" such action.

It's time to contact legislators and the governor. Tell them this bill has no place in Minnesota. It's one action we can take to honor Dr. King's legacy of nonviolent resistance.

Beth Tamminen


The writer is a member of the leadership team of the Arrowhead Network of MN Interfaith Power & Light.

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