DFL Party Condemns Senate GOP Bill Criminalizing Protest
Today, the Minnesota DFL Party is strongly condemning a bill introduced by Republican Senator David Osmek that seeks to stifle Minnesotans’ freedom of speech and expression by imposing extraordinarily harsh punishments on rally-goers and demonstrators.
Senator Osmek’s bill, Senate File 2381, stipulates that:
A person convicted of a criminal offense related to the person’s illegal conduct at a protest, demonstration, rally, civil unrest, or march is ineligible for any type of state loan, grant, or assistance, including but not limited to college student loans and grants, rent and mortgage assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance, unemployment benefits and other employment assistance, Minnesota supplemental aid programs, business grants, medical assistance, general assistance, and energy assistance.
DFL Party Chairman Ken Martin released the following statement:
“Senator Osmek’s bill to levy excessive punishments on Minnesotans convicted of a criminal offense at a protest or demonstration is cruel and reprehensible. Apparently, Senate Republicans have forgotten that the right to protest injustice is fundamental to who we are as Americans, so much so that our founders enshrined it as the very First Amendment to our Constitution.
“Rallies, demonstrations, and non-violent civil disobedience are the hallmark of our nation’s greatest advancements in civil and human rights for people of color, women, and the LGBTQ community. Had this Republican bill been in place during the civil rights movement, peaceful sit-ins to protest the evils of systemic racism would have resulted in devastating repercussions for all participants. Senator Osmek’s legislation is nothing more than a poorly-disguised attempt to criminalize speech their party disagrees with and stifle voices calling for the change their party refuses to enact. The voices of the oppressed will not be silenced by the Republican Party which is clearly on the wrong side of history.”