As this letter is being written, Senate Bill 323 is awaiting state Senate action. This bill potentially pushes police response costs onto those exercising First Amendment rights. Any protest in which someone is convicted, even of a misdemeanor trespass, could trigger huge financial penalties just for participating.
The goal seems to be to silence public opposition to corporate exploitation like gas and oil. Many of our lawmakers are prioritizing industry and their lobbyists over the common good. Many are being helped with corporate money to get elected and then maintain their positions.
Lancaster County state Sen. Scott Martin is the lead sponsor of this bill. It actually would target religious gatherings, calling out “the holding of vigils or religious services.” It charges all of us a second time for police response costs that “we the people” already cover in our taxes.
Those who speak out for their values could be held liable, exploiting the most vulnerable. It obviously benefits the industries exploiting our community and poisoning our planet with more air particulates, carbon dioxide, chemicals and other pollutants.
Never does it acknowledge human rights abuses suffered by U.S. citizens protesting violations of the rights of indigenous peoples and their lands.
If you believe protests that are peaceful should be protected, contact Martin and other Pennsylvania senators and let them know you are against SB 323 — and that you are for the Constitution.
The next thing you know, we might be prevented from protesting through a simple letter to the editor.
Alan Peterson, M.D.