On Aug 20, in Tennessee, the governor signed into law a bill that criminalizes dissent and imposes harsh punishments on protesters who violate the law, including depriving them of their right to vote. Laws like these are the first step at eroding our rights and taking away our freedoms. This is only the latest example of anti-protest laws that have been enacted around the country since 2017. This map shows the status and locations of these laws.
In mid-July, following massive protests against police brutality that swept the nation, President Donald Trump sent federal agents to Portland Oregon, one of the epicenters of protest. Federal agents reportedly grabbed protesters off the street and detained them in unmarked vehicles without a warrant, or explaining to them why they were being arrested or what was their crime. These actions sound right out of the playbook of an authoritarian government. What makes matters worse, is that these federal agents were not requested by local authorities, who expressed outrage over their presence, but were sent by the president because he disapproved of how the situation was unfolding.
My first thought was, 'this can't be legal?!' It turns out, as this article explains, there are loopholes that give federal authorities unchecked power, thanks to the broad powers afforded to the Department of Homeland Security -- an agency that is supposed to protect Americans from outside attacks not go after them! However, a judge is supposed to be the one to determine if the actions taken are legal or not.
Even if actions by federal agents in Oregon are not the most egregious violation, the fact that an American president can undermine people's freedoms and constitutional rights at a whim is very scary.
The most disturbing thing, apart from the clear threat to our freedoms, is that journalists were being targeted! Journalists are the first line of defense, protecting all the freedoms listed in the bill of rights. Once they get attacked, all of our freedoms are in jeopardy. Why would federal agents target journalists if what they are doing is legal? Makes one wonder what their motives are. It definitely seems fishy that they are targeting journalists as if they want to cover up something.
I'm outraged that this is happening in the U.S. Attacks on journalists should not happen in a democracy, and certainly should not happen in America. If the trajectory continues in this direction it would be only a matter of time before we descend into an authoritarian regime. This is a very scary thought. What makes America a great nation, that people from all over the world want to come to, is our justice system and respect for peoples rights. Once that is eroded our value as a nation, respect, and influence get eroded with it.
The freedoms we have are only as good as the laws that protect them. No law should be allowed to infringe on the rights we are awarded by the constitution, but it seems that some of these laws do. The only hope is that they could be challenged in court, and by that our rights restored. Safety and security are always used as an excuse to take away rights, especially by dictatorship governments. This is how a country can descend into an unjust totalitarian nation. We can't let this happen to our country!