‘…working to unmask…’
Protesters armed with rocks, bottles and gas canisters attacked police following President Donald Trump’s campaign-style rally last week in Phoenix, Arizona.
Video appears to show demonstrators throw canisters at police pic.twitter.com/inNJoCf82V
— azcentral (@azcentral) August 23, 2017
But violent protests, often worse than the one in Phoenix, have occurred around the country ever since Trump entered the White House.
Over 200 protesters were arrested in January during Trump’s presidential inauguration for rioting, damaging property and attacking police.
In February, rioters in Berkeley, California caused approximately $100,000 in damage.
These events have not been outliers. Throughout Trump’s presidency, rioters claiming to be ant-fascists have continued to attack Trump supporters and police, and wreak havoc on surrounding property.
There are generally two similarities among these far-left protesters. Many claim to belong to the anti-fascist group known as “antifa,” and many typically hide their identity by wearing face masks.
Antifa members frequently commit acts of violence, but police are often unable to identify suspects because their identities were concealed.
Following the violent events in Phoenix, one Arizona state legislator has had enough.
State Rep. Jay Lawrence, a Republican from Arizona’s 23rd house district, announced on his Facebook page that he will be introducing a bill outlawing the use of masks while protesting.
“If you watch television and you watch antifa, they are throwing chairs through windows, they are attacking people, wearing masks and hoods,” Lawrence told Western Journalism.
“I just received an email today discussing 11 antifa hooded protesters who were unmasked. And they are not college students. The average age was 30 years old, and they are wearing masks and they are creating problems,” he added.
“My bill deals with all of these places, where demonstrators in masks throw bottles filled with urine at police officers. Now anyone who does that — Ku Klux Klan, anyone wearing hood or mask — I want them unmasked.”
Lawrence’s legislative proposal has not come without its detractors.
The announcement drew immediate criticism from the American Civil Liberties Union and other activist groups that argue such a law would infringe on people’s right to free speech. Some First Amendment proponents believe forcing protesters to be unmasked could harm their professional lives, as an activist could risk losing his job if he is outed to his superiors.
Lawrence counters, though, that if protesters believe in what they are doing, they should be proud to show their faces.
“The complaints that I hear are First Amendment complaints. One of the things that I hear is ‘what if someone is carrying a Nazi flag and they get fired by their boss?’” he said.
“Why not?” he asked.
“You have a right to carry whatever flag you want, but your boss has a right to say ‘I don’t want you in my company.’ If you aren’t proud of what you are doing, if you don’t believe in the demonstration you’re attending — why attend it? Go home.”
Lawrence’s legislative proposal is currently being drafted by attorneys in the Arizona House of Representatives. He will introduce the measure when the state’s legislative session begins next year.
He has high hopes for the bill’s passage.
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Source: Western Journalism