Americans have long had a right to protest. The right of a person to air grievances without fear of retribution is fundamental to our democracy. It is protected in the Constitution, in the very first amendment. Protesting is a form of lawful assembly. Of course, sometimes things get ugly, like what we saw after the murder of George Floyd which prompts protests in cities across America. There were fires, looting and in Kenosha a couple people shot dead. Some Wisconsin lawmakers think they have the solution in the form of new legislation cracking down on those who gather to protest. Their bills would increase penalties for not just those who cause trouble, but anyone in attendance at what they call a riot. Their bill says a riot is any event and act or threat of violence committed by at least one person. That is pretty broad language. Under that definition, if someone at a protest, who may not even be part of the protest, threatens to shove someone, the whole event could be shut down because it would be considered a riot. Everyone there could be arrested and jailed for 30 days. There are already plenty of laws for those who are legitimately causing a riot. Dozens were arrested for their unlawfulness during recent unrest. This bill is overly broad, unconstitutional, anti-democratic, and deserving of a very swift stroke from the Governor’s veto pen.