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ACTION ALERT: The Right to Protest is Under Attack in Georgia

Georgians have a proud history of getting in “good trouble” by exercising our rights to free speech and assembly in demand of a safer and more just world. SB 171, which would criminalize that right to lawful protest, is going to be heard tomorrow, March 1, in the Senate Judiciary Committee at 4 PM. We need you to take action against this harmful, regressive piece of legislation.

Instead of meeting the community’s demands to end violence at the hands of racist vigilantes and state actors alike, some lawmakers are proposing harsh punishment of those same protesters. Audaciously named the “Safe Communities Act of 2021,” SB 171 undercuts community safety and violates the rights guaranteed to Georgia’s citizens in both our state and federal constitutions. SB 171 would antagonize the thousands of Georgians who have exercised their constitutional right to assemble, demonstrate, and organize for racial justice and an end to state-sanctioned violence in recent years.

We need you to call or email the Senate Judiciary Committee and tell them to protect our legacy of good trouble, and protect the right to protest by voting NO on SB 171.  

Please contact the senators in the list below and ask them to vote NO on SB 171. You can find our script and talking points below. Phone calls are the best way to reach lawmakers right now, but if you aren’t able to call, you can email the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee by clicking here. If you can only make one phone call, please reach out to Chairman Brian Strickland.  

Chairman   Brian Strickland  404.463.6598  [email protected]   
Vice Chairman  Bill Cowsert  404.463.1366  [email protected]   
Secretary  John Kennedy  404.656.0045  [email protected]   
Member  Bo Hatchett  404.656.7454  [email protected]  
Member  Kay Kirkpatrick  404.656.3932  [email protected]    
Member  Ben Watson  404.656.7880  [email protected]     
Member  Blake Tillery  404.656.5038  [email protected]   
Member  Harold Jones  404.656.0036  [email protected]    
Member  Elena Parent  404.656.5109  [email protected]   
Member  Michael “Doc” Rhett  404.656.0054  [email protected]    

What to Say: 

“Hello, my name is [YOUR NAME] [MENTION IF YOU ARE A CONSTITUENT]. I’m calling with a message for [NAME OF SENATOR]. 

I’m calling to demand that the Senate Judiciary Committee vote NO on Senate Bill 171, which criminalizes lawful protest and authorizes violence against protesters. For generations, Georgians have relied on the right to lawful assembly and protest when their government has failed to ensure their safety or respect their dignity. SB 171 violates the fundamental right to protest that has been essential to movements to fight racial injustice and other forms of oppression. SB 171 would also roll back the historic progress made last year when the General Assembly repealed citizen’s arrest, a law that similarly condoned vigilante violence. Georgia must protect First Amendment rights, not punish people for exercising them. Please vote NO on SB 171. Thank you.” 

Other Talking Points:   

  • SB 171 is completely unnecessary because acts that actually compromise public safety are already criminalized – for example – Rioting, Inciting a Riot, Obstructing a Highway, Terroristic Threats and Acts, and Criminal Damage to Property are all already criminalized under Georgia law.  
  • SB 171 criminalizes lawful protest in violation of the U.S. and Georgia Constitutions.   
  • SB 171 unfairly imposes civil liability on local governments that comply with the Constitution by protecting the right to protest. 
  • SB 171 frustrates the legislative intent of Georgia’s Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO).   
  • SB 171 provides immunity for people who cause harm to protesters.