“In the wake of last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, Republican lawmakers are advancing a a number of new anti-protest measures at the state level — including multiple bills that specifically make it easier for drivers to run down protesters.
The most recent example of such a law came Wednesday, when Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt signed a new law that effectively allows drivers to hit people with a car in a specific set of circumstances.
Under the new law, an Oklahoma driver will no longer be liable for striking — or even killing — a person if the driver is “fleeing from a riot … under a reasonable belief that fleeing was necessary to protect the motor vehicle operator from serious injury or death.”
The measure also creates new penalties for protesters who obstruct streets or vehicle traffic, including hefty fines of up to $5,000 and as much as a year in jail.”
“If the recent spate of anti-protest measures in Florida, Iowa, and Oklahoma is disturbing on its face, however, context does little to make it better. There is a specific history in the US of the far right using cars as weapons, and it’s not hard to see how bills like the one that is now law in Oklahoma might only make things worse.
The most notable example is from August 2017: Heyer, 32, was struck and killed and at least 19 others were injured when neo-Nazi James Alex Fields Jr. rammed a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville. Fields has since been sentenced to life in prison.
But it’s more than that single incident. According to Ari Weil, the deputy research director for the Chicago Project on Security and Threats, there were at least 72 incidents of cars driving into protesters over a relatively short span in 2020, from May 27 through July 7.
Examples aren’t hard to find. There’s even a Wikipedia page specifically dedicated to “vehicle-ramming incidents during George Floyd protests.” And as Weil explained in an interview with Vox’s Alex Ward last year, “there’s an online environment that for years has been celebrating and encouraging these types of horrendous attacks.”
“What’s particularly worrisome is where those memes spread,” Weil told Vox. “I know of at least four cases where law enforcement officers were sharing these in Facebook groups. [Fields] shared these memes twice in two months before his attack, and other planners of the Unite the Right rally shared these, too.””
“Even more concerning, it’s not always just random people driving through protests. In several cases, police have also used their cars as weapons against protesters. In Detroit last June, an officer drove his police SUV through a crowd, sending protesters flying; two New York police officers did likewise at a Black Lives Matter protest in May 2020.”
“Hundreds of thousands of Indian farmers and their supporters have been occupying major roads surrounding the capital, New Delhi, since November in protest of the agriculture reform laws.
Under the new policies, introduced by Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Indian farmers must sell goods and make contracts with independent buyers outside of government-sanctioned marketplaces, which have long served as the primary locations for farmers to do business.
Modi and members of his party say the reforms are needed to help India modernize and improve its farming industry, which will mean greater freedom and prosperity for farmers. But the farmers, afraid they will be at the mercy of big business, remain unconvinced.
Modi’s government offered to put the laws on hold for 18 months, but the farmers have refused, demanding a full retraction of the laws to end their standoff.
After an 11th round of talks between the farmers and the government failed, the farmers unions decided to up the ante with a tractor march into the capital on India’s Republic Day, which commemorates the signing of India’s constitution. Miscommunication led to violent face-offs with police, who used tear gas and batons to try to turn them back.
Hundreds of police officers were injured. A farmer was also crushed when his tractor was among the many vehicles overturned in the violence.”
“The Biden administration is stepping up its actions to punish Myanmar’s ruling military junta in the wake of a bloody weekend targeting civilians protesting against the February military coup.
On Saturday, the military commemorated Armed Forces Day by killing about 140 people — including six children — in 44 cities and towns amid nationwide peaceful protests, according to local reports and activists. One of the children, 11-year-old Aye Myat Thu, was buried with her drawings and toys as her family mourned beside her.
Thousands of people also fled into neighboring Thailand to escape the violence.
It’s the largest number of people killed in a single day since the military ousted the country’s democratic government in a February 1 coup. Some 500 people have been killed in total since the military seized control.
Pressure from the international community on Myanmar’s military to relinquish control has been growing, with the United Nations special rapporteur for the country recently calling the junta’s campaign “mass murder.””
“On Monday, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai announced that the Biden administration would “suspend all US trade engagement” with Myanmar that occurs under a 2013 bilateral trade agreement. That won’t stop all $1.4 billion in trade between the two countries, but it will curb the trade relationship, namely by ending US support for initiatives that helped Myanmar integrate back into the world economy.
That may not seem like much, but experts on Myanmar’s conflict like Cornell University’s Darin Self say the move “will sting” because “cutting off trade is meaningful.””
AMERICAN ANTIFA The Tactics, Culture, and Practice of Militant Antifascism Stanislav Vysotsky. 2 3 2021. Routledge. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/342245835_American_Antifa_The_Tactics_Culture_and_Practice_of_Militant_Antifascism Stanislav Vysotsky, Fascism And Anti fascism In The Trump Era Daniel Folkman. 3 30 2018. 10th Annual Wisconsin Grassroots Festival. In the Streets with Antifa
“At least 50 journalists in the US have been arrested during Black Lives Matter demonstrations across the US, while dozens of others have also been injured by rubber bullets, pepper spray and tear gas.
The US Press Freedom Tracker has collected nearly 500 incidents from 382 reports, from the unrest in Minneapolis in the wake of George Floyd‘s killing by police in late May, to demonstrations in more than 70 cities across 35 states since.
At least 46 journalists were arrested between the end of May and the beginning of June, according to data collected by the organisation. Dozens of others reported injuries from law enforcement, firing “less lethal” projectiles, tear gas canisters and other weapons into crowds or directly at reporters during demonstrations, even when they had identified themselves and shown credentials, the organisation reports.
Two reporters have suffered permanent eye injuries.”
“Arson, vandalism, and other acts of rioting have accompanied many of the anti-police-brutality protests around the country. But since this violence is often adjacent to protected First Amendment activities, law enforcement’s response needs to be careful, targeted, and proportionate. We should try to stop the violence and vandalism, but peaceful protesters shouldn’t be unjustly punished or otherwise dissuaded from exercising their rights to free speech and assembly.
By encouraging prosecutors to be as punitive as possible, Barr appears to be taking the exact opposite approach. His suggestion that they dust off sedition laws should alarm all civil liberties advocates.”
“A new report from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data project, in collaboration with Princeton University’s Bridging Divides Initiative, identified 7,750 Black Lives Matter protests from May 26 through August 22 at 2,400 locations across the US. An examination of these events found that 93 percent of them remained peaceful while protests at about 220 locations turned “violent” — defined as the destruction of property, and including clashes between protesters and police and counterprotesters. The report also found that in these places the violence was restricted to specific blocks of the city and not widespread.”