To the editor,
I stand with Kip Rondy and all the other environmental activists alarmed by the vague wording of House Bill 784 and Senate Bill 33. In response to a truly volatile summer of protests, one would expect legislative entities to intervene; however, intervention needs to be very clear and concise.
The term “riot”, for example, is used frequently in HB784 and is loosely defined in Ohio law as “participating with four or more others in a course of disorderly conduct.”
The size of a protest is an important factor in effectively grasping the attention of the general public and creating momentum in a movement.
In SB33, “tamper” is the word of opacity, allowing ridiculous financial damages against the organizations that demonstrators supposedly belong to, whether or not the organization was aware. Did we not learn anything from this year? How many peaceful Black Lives Matter protests were infiltrated by rebels looking for an opportunity to loot and vandalize?
I personally witnessed this in downtown Seattle: adolescent agitators smashing windows and reeking of fresh spray paint alongside BLM protestors observing the law. If we discourage organizations from supporting protests for fear of financial ruin, urgent messages will be lost in the ether.
Rich Tomsu, a local activist in his prime, is my friend and mentor. He, along with so many others, peacefully protested the slaughter in Vietnam, often calling law enforcement in advance and informing them of their plan for civil disobedience. I can’t imagine many would have taken direct action if they knew it would bankrupt their cause or slap a felony on their record. Without peaceful protests as an avenue for bringing awareness to our leaders and the public, how are we to develop a healthy, equitable world?