As protests turned into riots last week following Donald Trump’s surprise election win, a Washington state lawmaker is considering introducing legislation that would

The Republican state senator, Doug Ericksen, is proposing the creation of a new crime, “economic terrorism,” that would make it illegal to participate in protests that “block transportation, damage property, or put public safety at risk.”

The crime would be classified as a felony.

The law would also apply to anyone who “funds or organizes” such a protest.

Seattle’s mayor, Ed Murray, has his concerns.

“The last time I checked, protesting was a First Amendment right related to free speech,” he told reporters, but Ericksen says his bill does not circumvent the right to protest for “redress of grievances,” as provided by the First Amendment of the Constitution, because the language of the amendment creates only the right to “peaceably assemble.”

“Nothing in the Preventing Economic Terrorism Act in any way impacts a person's right to protest peacefully,” Ericksen notes.

The senator, who served as deputy director of the Trump campaign in Washington State, is fending off accusations that the bill is politically motivated and “criminalizing dissent.”

“Absolutely not,” he says, pointing to the economic aspect of the bill that recognizes the financial costs to small businesses and big ones alike when peaceful protests turn violent, erupting into arson, vandalizing and looting and disrupting commerce.


Ericksen represents a district in the state that is home to oil refineries and says the impetus for his proposed legislation is in response to efforts to block oil trains.

Unsurprisingly, the American Civil Liberties Union has condemned Ericksen’s bill.

In Seattle, an estimated 6,000 people protested for six hours, chanting and marching through the downtown area to the University of Washington.

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