“There has to be a way to protect infrastructure while also supporting citizens to express their voices. I urge you to include voices traditionally most vulnerable to all manner of injustices in the process of crafting such protection.” – excerpt from letter opposing HB 2772 by XRPDX member Jennifer Krauel
As if we didn’t have enough to do, we climate/environmental activists and concerned citizens must now STOP Oregon House Bill HB 2772 (currently in Ways and Means Committee).
So-called “Domestic Terrorism” legislation is being proposed across the country under the guise of stopping violent, extremist attacks, but in reality these bills are being used to discredit non-violent actions. If passed into law, these bills act as obstacles to our work. They are used to villify and incarcerate activists working for climate justice, social justice, Indigenous rights, racial justice, and environmental justice.
These legislative measures are opposed by both the ACLU and the Center for the Defense of Civil Liberties in Oregon, as well as by many environmental, BIPOC, and social justice organizations. Substantive legislation is already on the books criminalizing attacks on property and persons under Oregon statutes, but as documented in multiple cases, “Domestic Terrorism” laws are utilized to defame and tie up in court a broad range of primarily progressive, peaceful activists.
We have seen this tactic recently in the #StopCopCity struggle in Atlanta. In that case, 42 folks who were forest defenders and BIPOC activists have been charged with “Domestic Terrorism” even though they were attending a peaceful concert. Law enforcement ignored a group of folks near the same site who were actually damaging property. Through the use of the Freedom of Information Act, it was found that law enforcement at every level of government had been meeting for months and planned to utilize the “Domestic Terrorism” legislation to defame the peaceful movement. #StopCopCity had been working for over two years to protect the Weelaunee Forest and wetlands and working against further militarization of police in a predominantly Black neighborhood. Even more disconcerting, the Georgia legislation only focused on extreme acts of violence, yet it is selectively being used against peaceful activists, as has also happened in other parts of the country.
The language proposed in Oregon is overbroad and subject to abuse for many reasons. For instance, it includes vague reference to actions that would “disrupt critical infrastructure.” The extensive laundry list of critical infrastructure could lead to criminalizing anyone for blocking a road or protesting against private jets at an exclusive airport gate, with a sentence of 10 years in prison and a quarter million dollar fine.
Without extensive community engagement and input, no “Domestic Terrorism” offense should be passed. Legislators must listen to those Oregonians who have suffered the impacts of overreaching surveillance and state power, and are targeted for acts of resistance to those who profit from endangering the lives of so many, locally and around the world.
Where are the “Domestic Terrorism” charges for those profiting from worsening climate chaos that continues to kill thousands a year in our country alone? Recently our own Senator Merkley gave national recognition of the risks taken by climate and other activists globally who struggle to protect the Earth and human rights. Our state legislature should be engaged in efforts like that, instead of lining up to pass legislation that will further endanger those working to protect the Earth, waters, land, air, and essential human rights.
This trend is yet another example of a recent tendency to attempt to undermine democratic rights. It must be opposed. Undemocratic attacks, such as these bills, on those who try to address environmental and social change will escalate an authoritarian approach right here in Oregon. Please write to members of the Ways and Means Committee today (contact list below; please copy and paste into one email, or better yet create individual emails) to ask them to oppose HB 2772.
Send emails to the members of the Ways and Means Committee:
Photo credit: Janet Weil. Of course, to defend the climate and democracy we have to do more than vote!