A bill put forth by the House of Representatives targets protesters and journalists who wear protective masks at rallies and protests.
The bill would allow a judge to sentence anyone who wears a face covering at a protest to 15 years in prison if they interfere with another person’s protected rights.
“Whoever, whether or not acting under color of law, while in disguise, including while wearing a mask, injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution or laws of the United States, or because of his having so exercised the same, shall be fined under this title, imprisoned not more than 15 years, or both.” — H.R.6054
This means that, hypothetically, if a masked protester were to get into an altercation with, say, a Neo-Nazi, the masked protester could be sentenced to 15 years in prison while the Neo-Nazi walks free — all because one of them was wearing a mask.
This also means that journalists can’t risk wearing face coverings to protect themselves from tear gas because of the possibility of opening themselves up to being targeted by the police.
The bill also applies a minimum sentence of 2 years to anyone who damages or destroys property while wearing a mask.
“Whoever, during the commission of an offense under this section, wears a disguise, including a mask, shall, in addition to any term of imprisonment otherwise imposed under this section, be imprisoned for 2 years.” — H.R.6054
This bill, in the context of our increasingly conservative government, could unfortunately be used in exactly the opposite manner because of its conveniently vague language.
If Donovan is your senator, call and let him know that this kind of law is unacceptable in today’s biased political climate.
If Donovan isn’t your senator, call yours anyway, and encourage them to vote against H.R.6054 if and when it’s brought to the floor.
Iron Triangle Press will continue to follow this story.