Indiana Republican Rep. Jim Banks says protesters who are arrested during demonstrations should have to pay for police and secuirty costs — and not taxpayers, who are “essentially subsidizing their illegal actions.”
Banks is working on a bill to that effect, he writes Friday in an op-ed piece in the Washington Examiner. The congressman says he was inspired by the #ShutDownDC protest that tangled traffic on Monday morning and again on Friday.
“It’s time Antifa start paying for the chaos they create,” he writes.
The lawmaker recounted how “On Monday morning, over 500,000 car commuters found themselves in gridlock traffic because …’climate rebels’ shut down intersections across Washington. A bright yellow boat appeared in one … These protesters were not simply practicing their First Amendment right, they exceeded their rights by protesting illegally and costing taxpayers across this country thousands of dollars.” (RELATED: Here Are The Scenes From DC’s Climate Protest)
The event featured twerking and was trending on Twitter by the afternoon.
Banks notes that DC police nabbed a total of 26 people who participated in the protest and doubts that “anyone, after spending hours in traffic, was ‘converted’ as a result of these protests.”
However, he argues that while there may not have been any Damascus Road moments for morning commuters, these demonstrators did put “the public’s safety at risk. Imagine if someone was rushing to the hospital? Sensibly, out of concern for public safety, Washington has decided to make it illegal to block traffic.”
Banks explains that his bill will move the “financial liability of illegal protests on the protesters arrested.” He says the result will be to shift the costs of managing invasive demonstrations away from the taxpayers and to discourage such protests from happening. (RELATED: Journalist Goes Undercover To DC Climate Protest. Will He Be Accepted?)
“As a guardian of Hoosier taxpayer money, I will not standby idly while their money is wasted,” writes Banks.
The congressman notes that “lawless protests are on the rise” as he specifically cites the increasingly aggressive antics of the far-left Antifa, who have brutally attacked opponents and intimidated the public with their violence.
Banks insists his bill won’t infringe of anyone’s First Amendment rights to object to government policy. “There’s a saying by John Stuart Mill, ‘My right to swing my fist ends where your nose begins.’ He writes that it is already unlawful to block traffic and damage property — al he wants to is increase the punishment for those guilty of breaking the law.
“I hope my bill receives widespread, bipartisan support. I imagine taxpayers in Rhode Island or New York have little interest in funding these disruptive, illegal protests.”