Tuesday, Jan. 24, 8:15 am
Basement Hearing Room 10
State Office Building
100 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul MN 55155
On Tuesday, Jan. 24, House Republicans plan to introduce HF322, a bill that will allow state agencies to sue peaceful protesters for police overtime costs, during the meeting of the Civil Law and Data Practices Policy Committee. The Minneapolis NAACP urges Minnesotans to (1) attend Tuesday’s hearing, and (2) call your representatives, especially members of the committee, to voice your opposition to this bill.
The Minneapolis NAACP unequivocally condemns and opposes HF322 because it would infringe on constitutionally protected rights to free speech and assembly. The burdens of these restrictions would be disproportionately borne by people least able to pay large settlements. HF322 would give police departments a blank check to overreact to public protests. It would also provide an incentive to categorize peaceful demonstrations as “unlawful assemblies” and to charge as many people and collect as much money as possible. In Minnesota, we don’t sue sports fans for extra policing costs associated with events. We don’t charge bar patrons an extra fee at closing time for increased police presence. Protecting the right to protest is part of the role of law enforcement, not something for which citizens are expected to pay extra.
This bill, along with other companion legislation increasing protest criminal penalties, is the shameful Republican response to the Black Lives Matter movement in Minnesota. Our state is facing racial disparities that are among the worst in the nation in areas including income, education, health care, and policing. Rather than address these injustices, Republican politicians are seeking to stifle the protests that bring critically needed attention. We must stand up for free speech and the right to protest in Minnesota.
Text of HF322: