Reader's View: Prosecute protesters who commit crimes
Consumer Energy Alliance agreed with the sound reasoning of the News Tribune’s March 11 “Our View” editorial, “ Stiffen law for protests that go too far ,” which was in support of the Minnesota Senate’s proposed Worker Safety and Energy Security Act.
Too often, extremists who are unable to make their case in the marketplace of ideas turn to dangerous acts of vandalism and crime that risk public safety, then cloak themselves in the First Amendment to justify as “free speech” what any reasonable person would call a crime.
Time and again we have seen extremists sabotage facilities, trespass, attempt to destroy pipeline equipment, harass innocent bystanders, and otherwise commit acts that place the public and environment at risk. We must provide for the safety of our union construction workers, our friends and neighbors working and living near critical infrastructure, and the environment by defining these acts as what they are: crimes.
Similar legislation passed with bipartisan support before it was vetoed by former Gov. Mark Dayton, and we encourage all Minnesotans to call their legislators to support this important bill.
Energy infrastructure, including pipelines, is a crucial part of our national security, and we cannot allow specious arguments in the name of ideology trump the even application of our laws to everyone. Neglecting to do so would be a failure to protect our people, our environment, and the critical infrastructure that creates jobs and gives our families and local businesses the energy they need to thrive.
Extremism in the defense of ideologically driven criminal activity is a vice. Our legislators are wise to protect the rights of free speech and assembly while ensuring that criminal actions are treated as they should be — as dangerous threats to workers, families, and our public safety.
The writer is the Midwest director of Consumer Energy Alliance.