Oregon terror bill targets protesters

| 4/4/2003

An Oregon anti-terrorism bill would lock up street-blocking protesters for at least 25 years in an effort to discourage anti-war demonstrations, Reuters reported.

SB742, written by Senate Judiciary Chair John Minnis, R-Fairview, identifies a terrorist as a person who “plans, participates in or carries out any act that is intended, by at least one of its participants, to disrupt” commerce, transportation, education, government or free assembly.

“We need some additional tools to control protests that shut down the city,” Lars Larson, a Portland radio talk show host who backs the bill, told Reuters. “Right now a group of people can get together and go downtown and block a freeway.”

Critics of the bill argue its language is so vague it erodes basic freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism under an extremely broad definition.

Sen. Charlie Ringo, D-Portland, said in a statement “the bill defines the crime of terrorism so broadly that it can – without much stretch of the imagination – encompass school food fights, unruly labor strikes or even someone throwing a rock through a window in protest.”

SB742 is in the Senate Judiciary Committee.