'Shame on You': Activists Shout Down Minnesota House Committee After Vote to Sue Demonstrators
Protesters confronted a Minnesota House committee Tuesday following its passage of HF322, a GOP-sponsored bill that makes demonstrators financially liable for police interventions. House Civil Law Committee passed the measure 9-6 during a hearing attended by activists including John Thompson, a friend of Philando Castile, who was fatally shot by police in July.
"Shame on you," Thompson shouted. “You should leave, because those seats you’re sitting in will be replaced by somebody who represents us."
"Shut it down," the crowd backing him chanted.
Impromptu protest shuts down house committee after passing measure proposing to hold demonstrators financially liab… https://t.co/8tG19NX92z— Tim Nelson (@Tim Nelson)1485273256.0
Lawmakers walked out soon after. All 27 of the bill's authors are Republican, a fact that was not lost on the civil rights groups in attendence.
“This bill, along with other companion legislation increasing protest criminal penaties, is a shameful Republican response to the Black Lives Matter movement in Minnesota," said Cathy Jones, vice president of the Minneapolis NAACP.
The bill’s primary author, Rep. Nick Zerwas (R-Elk River), argued that protests had left taxpayers holding the bag.
“If you violate the law, if you block traffic, if you block access to a building, that’s what this bill is for,” Zerwas said. “I think if you’re convicted of a crime where you intentionally inflict as much expense and cost upon a community as possible, you ought to get a bill. It should not be property taxpayers’ responsibility to cover for your illegal behavior.”
Black Lives Matter Minneapolis has garnered national attention for its demonstrations following the shootings of Castile and Jamar Clark. But Minnesota isn't the only state cracking down on protesters; Iowa and Washington are facing similar controversies over proposals to treat protesters as criminals and terrorists.