The Smith College hip hop cringe police strike again!
Without realizing it, she’d stepped over an invisible border and had officially trespassed into a construction site. Within seconds, half a dozen police officers surrounded her, carrying zip ties to arrest her. Video footage of the incident shows her ― bundled in an oversize green hoodie, a black winter jacket and matching mittens ― apologizing repeatedly as fellow activists chant, “Let her go.” It proved enough to talk the officers down to a misdemeanor citation. She’s due in court next week.
Under a new bill in the Minnesota legislature, Goodwin could face much steeper consequences. Had any of her fellow activists caused even minor damage to equipment at the site, the bill could’ve held virtually anyone even remotely involved — especially those caught trespassing — liable for the damage, threatening protesters with up to 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.
An activist wouldn’t even need to be convicted of trespassing to be held liable ― an arrest is enough under the legislation.
It is extremely draconian,” said Teresa Nelson, the legal director at the American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota. “We don’t impose those kinds of punishments on people in any other part of our statutory code.”
Minnesota’s bill is tougher than similar legislation proposed in other states, but it’s not unique. The legislation follows a model that’s been approved in 14 states and is also under consideration in Arkansas, Montana, and Kansas. The model designates ― if it isn’t already so ― any oil, gas, coal, or plastics facilities as “critical infrastructure” and adds aggressive new penalties for vague charges of trespassing or tampering.
Look, I’m not saying it’s as bad as the time that a student at Wesleyan suggested that Oscar Meyer baloney and ketchup on Wonder Bread probably shouldn’t be called a “Po’ Boy,” but it seems problematic.