WITHIN ONE DAY of last week’s attack on the Capitol, at least three states introduced legislation to criminalize protest. The bills, advanced by Republican lawmakers in Florida, Mississippi, and Indiana, do not represent new strategies designed specifically to prevent future right-wing insurrections. Rather, they draw from a set of policies that numerous state legislators introduced this summer in order to appear tough on protests against police brutality.
Florida’s and Mississippi’s bills in particular represent a new brand of anti-protest laws on steroids, creating penalties for a wide array of activities, from damaging monuments to obstructing traffic. The bills include measures that could encourage harsh law enforcement responses to protests as well as provisions meant to prevent local governments from reducing police funding.