Senator Dan Lederman (R-16/Dakota Dunes) dumped a load into the legislative hopper yesterday. Among his proposals is Senate Bill 133, which proposes to create a new crime, "aggravated disorderly conduct." Under SB 133, it's one thing to make a ruckus, but the moment you make that ruckus in the presence of "any officer or official" and persist in said ruckus after said officer or official tells you to knock it off, you're engaging in "aggravated" disorderly conduct.
Regular disorderly conduct is a Class 2 misdemeanor. Senator Lederman wants aggravated disorderly conduct to be a Class 1 misdemeanor. That means your penalty for ruckusification increases from a maximum of 30 days in jail and $500 to one year and $2000.
Now I have no sympathy for roughnecks throwing punches and smashing windows. I'm all for allowing the riot police to come in and shut down a real riot.
But given the climate of protest, given the effectiveness of the sit-ins around the White House that pushed President Obama's rejection of Keystone XL, and given the effectiveness of the Occupy movement in shifting the national dialogue, my civil liberties radar starts pinging. It sounds like Senator Lederman is looking for a way to drop a harder hammer on Occupy Rapid City and anyone else who may choose civil disobedience as a means of political action.
Let me guess: ALEC and/or the Koch Brothers are behind this, wanting to clamp down on democracy after seeing how well citizens are using their free speech rights in places like Wisconsin. If they'd had the chance, they would've thrown the Founding Fathers and Henry David Thoreau in prison too, for "raising a ruckus."
Sieg heil, y'all.
Someone should introduce a bill that makes it a misdemeanor for aggravated building in a floodway and prevents the state from erecting levees for idiots that break the law.
Uhm...he's a bail bondsman. This is more about an effort to drum up business.
So by writing a law that makes peacefull protest a little harder to define and give law enforcement a good reason to go Johnny "Pepper Spray" Pike on a group of kids, he can drum up more business. Of course that would mean he'd have to hire more people to bail out those protesters.
Hey, wait a minute...this is a jobs bill and Mr. Dan is a job creator. We better listen.
To be fair, I'm sure bailbondsman Dan will give us many good reasons and examples of how this is a desperately needed law and how this will help solve some deep seated flaws in law enforcement and our courts.
I think civil disobedience is an absolute critical component of American freedom. And, I think this includes being willing to be jailed and have the arrest on your record. It is this resolve that gives protesters gravitas.
A good friend of mine has two arrests on his record. One was a psuedo-civil rights protest (I say psuedo only because of the details of the "event" and not his motive). The other is in opposition to the Vietnam War. He talks about both the consequences of having it on his "resume" and long-term benefits of learning there are costs to doing what is right, costs one must have the fortitude to be willing to pay.
Saying this I have three points:
1) I'm not sure this is the "wet blanket" Cory is alluding to. Might be but I tend to lean the other way. I'm more inclined to listen to the protester (and isn't that his objective to shake me into looking at the issue anew?) if there are consequences vs. it just being another chance to get drunk and misbehave.
2) Protest and civil disobedience is for big issues. Using the tactic for small issues dilute the matter when it really counts. Personally, whether it be conservatives or liberals, I think protest is too often a first resort. Maybe a tougher penalty will make it a last resort, when they are more necessary.
3) I don't know if the matter is covered under other statutes but I'm really becoming concerned about the stuff I see in other part of the country at or near polling places. If a law enforcement matter sees even the smallest matter that might impact voters going to the poll, I hope they have the authority to take the person or persons away immediately.
Related: Fred Phelps' christians are expected to protest at Joe Paterno's funeral.
Troy, "Iâ€™m really becoming concerned about the stuff I see in other part of the country at or near polling places."
Agreed, whether it's physical or non physical intimidation, there is no place for something that might impact voters going to the poll. Voter supression is a real problem that should be dealth with.
I haven't seen much of what you were talking about though, any examples you can share that could make their way to justify new and more laws in South Dakota?
A few years ago, I did see two people standing on the edge of a polling place (probably just off the property if I recall properly), a cop was there I assume telling them to go home and the people were yelling at the cop. My reaction: The cop should just haul them in. While I was not a voter there, I fear a little old lady/man might consider driving by not knowing what the deal was.
But, to your point (I think) I don't think it is a big problem. And, you are probably correct I confused/expanded the discussion to something probably unrelated. I was just brain dumping.
My bigger point is protest is too often pursued diminishing the effectiveness of real matters deserving protest. And on a big issue, $500 fine and 30 days in jail doesn't seem to be cost prohibitive and anyone willing to risk this penalty probably deserves some consideration of what they are saying. More so than the punks who are just looking for another reason to yell and get drunk.
Lederman's assault on civil disobedience likely stems from what his caucus believes were inappropriate displays of patriotism by GreenPeace members at the Shrine of Hypocrisy.
Lederman, of course, supports the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel.
Think: dog in a manger...
I'm sure these Republican legislators are targeting the screaming, red-faced, occasionally armed teabaggers who disrupted events held by public officials, right? No? Huh. That's strange. It's almost like they weren't concerned with this issue when they liked what the protesters were doing.
I guess free speech doesn't count if you're in the presence of Your Betters (i.e., elected officials). In that case, know your place, peasant. The gentry will not permit rabble like you to inconvenience them.
Your "sure"? Really. You know their motives. How about comment on why this is a good or bad idea on its merits. Too tough for you?
Troy, I'm just noting the timeline. Teabagger disruptions: No legislation. Disruptions by 99%ers: Suddenly legislation is important. The "merits" of the legislation seem to hinge on whose ox is being gored. It's a pretty straightforward argument.
By the way, speaking for myself, you can ease up on the pontificating and the snarky ad hominems. If you have a point, make it, and try do so concisely. Spare us the condescension and hectoring. I'll try to do likewise.
I am simply going to remind people to contrast the behavior of the Tea Party protestors and the behavior of the Occupy movement protestors. Enough said.
The tea party movement is in the dustbin of history while the Occupy movement is changing history.
This bill raises issues of what is acceptable during protests and what authorities law enforcement has. Cory discussed one side. I raised another side. And, nobody else has said anything else about the substance about the matter.
It can be argued that Lederman's bill represents a chilling effect on dissidence, especially in a state where law enforcement has been authorized to wield political clout and has a history of racial profiling.
Troy, I discussed the substance. Just because my argument and conclusions are different from yours doesn't mean that I haven't discussed the "substance" of the matter. However, that's fine; we can politely agree to disagree.
Tea Party: Displayed racist posters of the President; sometimes came armed; displayed posters that threatened violence; screamed, shouted and disrupted public "town hall" events; were not pepper-sprayed or arrested; were promoted by Republican politicians and Fox "news."
Occupy Wall Street: Displayed posters protesting economic unfairness and criminal activity on Wall Street; did not come armed or bearing racist, threatening posters; gathered in public places and inconvenienced people, sometimes disrupting events; were often pepper-sprayed and arrested; were not promoted by the media--in fact, were not even covered by the media until the protests were too numerous to ignore.
I think the comparison proves my point: The legislation is intended to clamp down on public speech that the politicians in power do not like. Otherwise, it would have been introduced immediately after the summer of the teabaggers.
Troy has a good point. Part of civil disobedience is being willing to be arrested. Recall the famous story of Emerson visiting Thoreau in jail asking him "Henry, why are you in here?" And Henry's reply: "Why are you not?"
p.s. Troy, I say if there gets to be too much police presence at polling places, it will be time to pack the jailhouses. ;^)
Troy, I'd love to back you on this one.
But, Troy, help me out with the side you were representing. "And on a big issue, $500 fine and 30 days in jail doesnâ€™t seem to be cost prohibitive and anyone willing to risk this penalty probably deserves some consideration of what they are saying."
Seriously Troy, $500 is a lot to some people to the overwhelmingly majority of South Dakotans. Of course, to people of means this is a pittance to demonstrate and exercise their constitutional rights. But then again, they are the ones invited to meet behind closed doors with their elected representatives, and don't have to actually do anything but write a check to make their voice heard.
Want to re-think that one? That's 2 weeks pay for way too many in South Dakota.
Never mind. Don't re-think it. We get your drift of...if you can't afford it...stay out of the political discussion. Back to the main point though. Do you really think that $500 and 30 days in jail is enough to exercise the right of assembly and free speech? Shouldn't we raise the fine and increase the jail time to make sure that only the "right" people have a voice?
Sorry Troy, hope I wasn't making an ad hominem attack there.
As a matter of fact, you might just be right that expressing a political opinion should cost you something.
That's why I'm proposing a photo ID law to be able to vote. Along with that I would recommend that we raise the cost of a photo ID to $50 on top of what you already have to pay.
That will keep the rif raff out and make sure that we keep the undesirables away from the voting booth. After all, voting is a right that should come at a price. So screw the homeless vet without a car, no drivers license, no vote. Period.
Not to mention, that extra $50 per ID would bring in almost $9,400,000 which would be enough to pay more in teacher bonuses...or give to a company wanting to create some minimum wage jobs in South Dakota.
After all, I'm with you that making your voice heard, whether on the front lines of a protest or at the ballot box, you should pay something!
So which representative will bring the photo ID law up this year? Seems to be a fairly popular bill crafted by an organzation that whose name must not be spoken.
I don't know where I stand necessarily. I kinda took the devil's advocate position to Cory. I think it is an important issue and just attacking it and bringing up unrelated issues or who it is from doesn't serve any discussion.
Read the bill. It will have no effect on peaceful protests but it will affect those protesters who get verbally abusive (ala the Westboro Baptist Church) and don't maintain peaceful decorum after being told to do so by a law enforcement officer.
Secondly, these are the maximums. Seldom are first offenders given the maximum. Maybe only serial protesters ala again WBC.
Third, I couldn't care less if some liberal wacko wants to get crazy belligerent. It only hurts their cause. But, I do want to have some limit to what a conservative wacko does on an issue I support. Make a peaceful protest. Great. Yell obscenities at the President and keep doing it after being told to be quiet, I would prefer not.
Fourth, if the issue is important, one needs to be willing to pay some consequences. If they think it is so important acting belligerent and denying dignity to the other side, I think proving it by facing tougher consequences might be in order.
Look, I'm a civil libertarian. I don't take this view lightly and have conflicting impulses. One one hand, I don't like speech limits. On the other hand, groups like WBC are not contributing to the body politic. I'm just looking for some views to influence me.
P.S. Chris, your rendition of the two groups are not accurate. While both had disorderly participants, the percentage of OWS was worse. This said, I don't think to any large degree these types will be affected.
Next: "Really Annoying Aggravating Disorderly Conduct" Class 6 felony
Definition: "Commiting Aggravated Disorderly Conduct while satirizing a legislator."
Troy: did I just read you saying that laws already exist that address this issue and that Lederman is grandstanding?
"Fourth, if the issue is important, one needs to be willing to pay some consequences. If they think it is so important acting belligerent and denying dignity to the other side, I think proving it by facing tougher consequences might be in order."
So there has to be a cost other than pointing out a wrong or proving a right?
Are you saying bad laws can continue to exist or be created as long as no one is willing to pay a consequence or cost to fight them?
I must admit that's an interesting exercise and enty fee for democracy.
"I care not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty, or give me a $500 ticket for disturbing the peace." â€” Henry Fitzpatrick
I just emailed the above "Fitzpatrick" quote and invite 5,000 or more of you to do the same.
Should have said "I just emailed the above â€œFitzpatrickâ€ quote TO MR LEDERMAN..."
But given the climate of protest, given the effectiveness of the sit-ins around the White House that pushed President Obamaâ€™s rejection of Keystone XL, and given the effectiveness of the Occupy movement in shifting the national dialogue, my civil liberties radar starts pinging.
Will that radar continue to ping if a bunch of right-wing wackos come around your house demanding that you get your "leftist butt" out of town, and refuse to leave even after the cops come and tell them to clear out?
Heck, terrorists have been quite "effective" at getting some of us Americans to take a second look at our own morality. Should we therefore show them a little more tolerance, the next time they blow a bunch of people to Kingdom Come?
Stan I certainly take the sanctity of my home seriously and would want police intervention. But it seems we already have that covered under current law, don't we? Disorderly conduct gets you arrested, whether you mouth off to the cop or not. The situation I'm envisioning is the sit-in. People sit silently. Police say disperse. They refuse, remain seated in silence. Don't we already haul those people away for "disorderly conduct"? Troy, do we really need to raise the ounishment on those people?
My 80 something mother with strong views(call her a liberal) would love the attention. This legislation is all about putting a muzzle on democracy in action--when that action by it's peaceful nature embarasses the status quo.
If its purpose is to ensure someone gets arrested and transported away from the scene, which I don't believe is the case, SB 133 is unnecessary. Read SDCL 23A-3-2: a law enforcement officer's power to arrest without warrant. LEOs already have the ability to arrest someone for their disruptive behaviors under the state's Disorderly Conduct statute (class 2 misdemeanor) when the offense is committed in his/her presence.
I found Section 2 (proposed definition of an officer or official) more interesting than Section 1. It is, most likely, the reason for the introduction of the bill.
Anyone familiar with the response of officers/officials to scenes such as those envisioned in the comments section above knows about "scene safety/security". If a scene is not safe or secure, most described in Section 2 do not enter. Furthermore, if an EMT or the person working in an official capacity as "security" at one of those venues is having trouble with someone being disruptive or disorderly and requests a law enforcement officer, I can all but guarantee the offending individual will continue to be disorderly - perhaps more so - once the "badge heavy member of the goon squad in a Darth Vader uniform" arrives. When that happens, criteria under the current statute has been met.
It would be nice to see more time committed to cleaning up existing statutes.
There is no consequences for exercising free speech. This bill is not changing and will have no effect on peaceful protests.
Do you even read the bill or consider what we are talking about. This bill is about disorderly type conduct and refusing a LAWFUL instruction from law enforcement. To ignore the context of this bill. . . . well, I will just say it is really hard having an intelligent conversation with liberals these days.
Cory as I read the bill, this wouldnt affect peaceful sit ins. The way I read this if the situation includes unlawful possession (ie being on private property), you have two choices vacate or be arrested. This bill is to address one who compounds the problem with being belligerent and not peacefully making one of these choices.
Steve Sanchez Great comment
The SD Legislature used to be conservative in its approach to passing bills, taking an "if it ain't broke, don't fix it" philosophy toward legislating. The question I have is how serious a problem is disorderly conduct issues in South Dakota, and does it warrant a get tough policy? Any statistics to show that people are disobeying orders more than they were in the past, etc.? Is it really worth increasing taxpayer funded jail time for some drunk who gets a bit too rowdy?
I wonder if this is just one of those bills by a legislator to make themselves look good. If they can't cite statistics to show a real need, maybe they ought not waste legislative time on a non-issue.
Donald, you make a good point. I don't think South Dakota needs a law like SB 133 -- yet.
SB 133 is perhaps the "farm dust" bill of the 2012 session?
Troy, I did read it and I am all for "Engaging in fighting or in violent or threatening behavior" Here's the parts of changes to SD Codified L Â§ 22-18-35 that concern me and how the law could be interpreted and used.
Public inconvenience? Annoyance? Maybe like what we saw in the capital in Wisconsin?
Making unreasonable noise...maybe singing a full throated version of "we shall overcome" could be considered unreasonable to a certain officer.
Disturbing any lawful assembly or meeting of persons without lawful authority...Could this be shouting down or blocking WBC at a military funeral? Might be if one of the officials is in agreement with WBC.
Obstructing vehicular or pedestrian traffic...Perhaps a peaceful protest/sit in on a public sidewalk like we saw with Wisconsin, Tea Party rally or OWS...pretty loose interpretation could be given here depending on the LEO's opinion.
But like you, I would like more information as to why adding more laws is necessary and I would hope that Senator Lederman will describe the problem in South Dakota and the comittee will have a vigorous discussion.
Personally, I think it is in response to OWS and the protests in Wisconsin. Can't have that here now can we...we ought to pass a law.
By the way, can you point out where it limits this to private property? I didn't see that reference anywhere.
Jana reads the law well here, Troy. There is no "belligerent" or "private property" criterion in the statute. You don't have to be swinging your fist or breaking stuff or standing on Richie Rich's lawn. A peaceful sit-in on a public street or sidewalk is subject to this law.
Here are some examples of protestors (and press!) being arrested for disorderly conduct:
Reporter gets arrested for standing and asking questions: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/12/10/i-was-arrested-at-occupy-bronx-for-writing-about-it.html
Vast majority of Occupy Wall St. protesters charged with disorderly conduct (includes Jana's list of d.o. standards): http://www.thirteen.org/metrofocus/news/2011/10/op-ed-disorderly-conduct-how-protesting-became-a-crime-in-nyc/
Tampa protesters arrested for d.o., police say "without any physical confrontation or violence": http://wsws.org/articles/2011/dec2011/occu-d03.shtml
Officer Sanchez and others are heading the right direction on this bill: we don't need it. Police already have the power to stop clear and present threats to public safety, and courts already have sufficient power to punish. In the case of nonviolent civil disobedience, the authorities may already take their existing power too far.
I said "i.e being on private property" and "i.e" is shorthand for "for example".
Everything you list in certain circumstances can be lawfully restricted. If lawfully asked to cease and one refuses belligerently, the charge can be made more serious.
This is simply the objective of the bill.
Don: Good point. I think we should know if this bill is preemptive (not always bad) or reactive. I have heard/read young people are sometimes combining cell texts etc., petty objections, to create an excuse for a party and calling it a protest. This offends both the intent of the Constitutional right and the importance of legitimate protest. And in the end, the legitimate protesters will be lawful or get arrested under the lesser charge. Drunk young people partying are who will get belligerent.
Steve, I agree email to Lederman suggested changes.
Should there be a penalty against officials who misuse disorderly conduct arrests to obstruct citizens' Constitutionally protected rights to free speech and assembly? One thing that Capitol Police and other law enforcement in Madison, WI, refused to do was to act as Scott Walker's "palace guard" in the words of our local sheriff. They refused to break up lawful protests, and that prevent violence.
(Tiny language point! "i.e." stands for "id est", meaning "that is." e.g." stands for "exempli gratia," meaning "for the sake of example." If you say "i.e., being on private property," you are saying, "that is, being on private property," which means that condition is not an example but the entire scope of the concept being discussed.)
Troy, do please contact Lederman and talk about adding some sort of "belligerence" criterion. Otherwise, this law seems to create just one more club to swing at peaceful protesters. But even that criterion seems open to interpretation. We're already calling a man sitting silently on a sidewalk "disorderly." How much could the authorities twist that word "belligerent"? Do we really need this new class of offense at all?
Troy writes: "I have heard/read young people are sometimes combining cell texts etc., petty objections," What does that even mean? I think you made it up.
"..to create an excuse for a party and calling it a protest." Show us an example. If this leads to your definition of OWS, go home, Troy.
"...This offends both the intent of the Constitutional right and the importance of legitimate protest." Kids protesting is a constitutional right. Kids partying are kids being kids, but you go out on this silly rightwing limb and call protesting kids partyers. Where in the constitution does it say kids cannot party, if that's what you call a congregation of youth? Mostly what you're espousing is your First Amendment right to say anything you want.
Troy wrote earlier: "P.S. Chris, your rendition of the two groups are not accurate. While both had disorderly participants, the percentage of OWS was worse."
TeaParty gatherings lasted on the average a couple hours at a time, were a select group of the population - predominately middle aged to retired white men and women - and was the opportune time to brandish all the guns you could in public and snarl all the obscenities they could think of.
OWS is going on its 5 month continuous month, it includes all sections of the population - all races, all ages, all economic ranges; each city/group encouraged peaceful protest and weapons were not strongly discouraged. The reasons for attending were diverse and no one was shunned for their beliefs. Being arrested was discussed each and every day.
Tea Party gatherings sound a lot more like a kid party than OWS.
"and weapons were not strongly discouraged." Of course, the NOT should not be in there.
"and weapons were strongly discouraged."
Another ridiculous, time wasting, non-job producing (unless thousands of OWSers from NY decide to set up camp in strategic South Dakota) nanny stating bill.
Cory, I suspect Lederman will see this thread. I don't think I have to contact him directly.
Thanks for the language lesson. Sorry about my mistake, especially it caused people not to hear what I intended to say vs. what I said.
If this is a "club" to swing at peaceful protests, I'm opposed. Period.
I take Troy at his word. I think of him as an ally when it comes to protection of human and civil rights. He seems more libertarian than some Dems in that regard.
Given how the current adminstrtion has walked back on it's campaign rhetoric and doesn't seem to be doing much better than the Bush/Cheney group, you're probably damning Troy with faint praise.
LK, clearly. That's what I'm talking about. Troy has a lecture on "statists" vs "libertarians" that I'll let him deliver.
"If lawfully asked to cease and one refuses belligerently, the charge can be made more serious. This is simply the objective of the bill."
I disagree, Troy. What you have described is, most often, exactly what leads to someone being arrested for Disorderly Conduct. By the way, the current statute does not require the officer to 1) ask or 2) wait for compliance, though it does happen. As for the charge being made more serious, well, that's where Section 2 comes into play. The increased fines and jail time are byproducts, really, of creating an additional offense versus an identical statute (what's the point of that?) in the same Class 2 category.
By including the definition of an officer or official, the LEO would have to consider making an arrest not only when the offense happens in his/her presence (as state law currently dictates for a Class 2 arrest), but - if SB 133 is passed - also when the offense is reported to have been committed in the presence of any "firefighter, rescue personnel, medical personnel, emergency services personnel, or any other person acting in an official capacity at a fire, accident, disaster, disturbance, riot, or other emergency, who has authority to do so."
As this bill is written, the following scenario is set to be played out. When a disruptive, belligerent, non-compliant subject chooses not to "cease and desist" after having been given the order to do so by anyone of the aforementioned officials, the responding LEO (who, remember, does not have to be there to witness either the order to cease and desist or the subsequent refusal) would have the green light to make an arrest for Aggravated Disorderly Conduct.
My point: The offender will either comply by the time law enforcement arrives (problem solved) or not. In the case of continued belligerent or non-compliant behavior, the person is subject to arrest under the current statute.
I was hoping Senator Lederman, being a little bit of a social media wonk himself, would come over to the Madville Times and give some clarity of purpose to his bill.
This is just another example of money being speech. If you can't afford the fine and the jail time, shut your mouth.
In our desire to maintain the peace of a cemetery in all parts of SD life, we have given thugs with badges and guns inordinate power. Giving them another excuse to stifle dissent is absurd.
The other part of the problem is that our news media does not give coverage to anything except corporate and government propaganda unless there is the equivalence of a train wreck to draw their attention to average citizens. Then some legislator decides that expressing displeasure with the establishment in any shape or form is a form of belligerence.
The legislature this year is certainly providing reason to support a Unicameral with about half as many people ready to destroy rights and property.
"In the case of nonviolent civil disobedience, the authorities may already take their existing power too far" I don't think this is even a question. It is bully the less fortunate or the have not's.
Officer Sanchez, we all deeply appreciate your informed perspective. Keep up the good work!
Troy, thank you for your attention to language. I'm always happy to help in that regard.
So Senator Lederman, what remaining need is there for this bill?
New York has an aggravated disorderly conduct statute that applies specifically to "unreasonable noise or disturbance" within 100 feet of a religious service.
So who is the biggest threat to having a peaceful life. Is it the person who protests openly in public where the law can easily prove who did it, or is the real threat to a peaceful life the one who assults someone at home or where there is no witnesses so they can effectively terrorize someone indefinitely. One does it to protest a problem, the other does it to cause an ongoing problem. So why the greater penalty for the lesser threat.
Bill and LK,
I lost track of this thread. Thanks for the faint praise, Bill. ;). Actually, I take it as sincere. Isnt the statist/civil liberty discussion an old record?
I think protest, peaceful and non-peaceful, are part of Americana.
I just wanted to explore if there might be value in having some remedies for a few who choose to turn a generally peaceful protest into something non-peaceful plus those who use a protest to cover otherwise illicit behaviour.
I guess nobody wants to discuss it.
We get easily distracted by the new news, Troy. I appreciate your willingness to explore the possibilities in this bill. Especially given Officer Sanchez's observations, it seems police and the courts already have enough tools to address the bogus protesters you postulate. We can nail belligerent protesters for disorderly conduct, resisting arrest, vandalism, assault... if they are really engaging in illicit behavior, then it's already illicit.
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