Reason: From Washington to Wisconsin, States Are Punishing Dissent (In the News)

Reason: From Washington to Wisconsin, States Are Punishing Dissent

By Alex Cordell

Just over a year ago, after the Trump administration gave the green light to move forward with construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline, an activist group called Red Line Salish Sea staged a peaceful protest in Bellingham, Washington…

The county prosecutor’s office responded with a disorderly conduct and reckless endangerment investigation of the demonstrators. To uncover their identities, officials repeatedly attempted to obtain a warrant for private information from the group’s Facebook page…

The first two warrant applications were withdrawn after the American Civil Liberties Union and Facebook fought back, noting that they would chill political speech and association. So county prosecutor David McEachran went to the feds, and the Department of Justice chimed in with tips on how to craft a warrant to pass constitutional muster.

Third time was the charm. Must be nice to have friends in high places…

Abuses of this sort aren’t limited to one side of the political aisle, as a group of conservative citizens in Wisconsin know all too well. Their own saga began around 2010, when the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office opened a secret probe into the Milwaukee County Executive’s Office, run at the time by then-gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker.

Three years later, Wisconsinites affiliated with right-of-center groups that had supported Gov. Walker’s collective bargaining reforms had their homes raided by police officers in full riot gear before dawn.

The Center for Competitive Politics is now the Institute for Free Speech.