US Protest Law Tracker

The US Protest Law Tracker, part of ICNL's US Program, follows initiatives at the state and federal level since January 2017 that restrict the right to peaceful assembly. For information about our methodology, click here. For more information and an analysis of this data, click here.

45 states have
considered
230 bills
36 enacted 50 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation

Latest updates: Oct. 28, 2021 (Florida, Oklahoma), Sep. 3, 2021 (North Carolina), Sep. 1, 2021 (North Carolina)
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3 entries matching in provided filters in 1 states.
Oregon

HB 3329: New penalties for protesters who block traffic or are convicted of "riot," including limits on public benefits

Would create a new felony offense that could cover peaceful protesters who block traffic. Under the bill, obstructing vehicles or pedestrians "on a public way" would be a Class C felony, punishable by 5 years in prison and $125,000, if committed during a "violent or disorderly assembly." The bill defines "violent or disorderly assembly" as a group of two or more people who cause property damage or injury. The definition would seem to cover a large demonstration where some participants commit even minor property damage. The bill also creates a new Class C felony offense for causing "alarm" by "engaging in threatening or intimidating conduct" at a place of public accommodation. The bill limits access to public benefits and employment for protesters, providing that a person is disqualified from receiving public assistance or being employed by the state if the person is convicted of "riot" or any crime that has as an element the fact that it occurred during a "violent or disorderly assembly." The bill also prohibits the immediate release of a person arrested for "riot" or for a crime occurring during a "violent or disorderly assembly," until the person appears in court. Finally, the bill waives the immunity of public bodies, officers, employees and agents for a civil claim arising out of a "riot," if the entity or individual was "grossly negligent" in protecting persons or property. If enacted, such provisions could encourage local governments and law enforcement agencies to adopt overly aggressive responses to protests, to avoid costly lawsuits. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Mar 2021.

Issue(s): Riot, Traffic Interference, State Liability, Limit on Public Benefits

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Oregon

HB 4126: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a Class B felony to "partially or fully conceal[]" one's face while engaged in a riot, in order to "facilitate commission" of the riot. A Class B felony in Oregon is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bill would also direct courts to consider an individual's concealment of their face an aggravating factor during sentencing. Under Oregon law, a person can be convicted of rioting if "while participating with five or more other persons the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public alarm." Given the vagueness of the underlying riot definition, extreme penalties such as those envisioned in the bill could have a chilling effect on nonviolent protesters who want to remain anonymous or use a mask to make a political or social statement. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 28 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): Face Covering, Riot

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Oregon

SB 540: Mandatory expulsion for college students convicted of rioting

Would require that public universities and community colleges expel a student who is convicted of participating in a riot. The bill expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 9 Jan 2017.

Issue(s): Campus Speech, Riot

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For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.