Reps. Dan Donovan and King of New York, Ted Budd of North Carolina and Paul Gosar of Arizona, introduced a Congressional bill in June, which was referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.
“My bill expands upon long-standing civil rights statutes to make it a crime to deprive someone of Constitutionally-guaranteed protections while masked or disguised. Americans have the natural right to speak and protest freely; it is not a right to throw Molotov cocktails and beat people while hiding behind a mask,” said Congressman Donovan.
“The bill adds a penalty for wearing a mask while committing crimes that have been against federal law for decades,” Donovan’s office told Big League Politics.
The bill text itself also makes it clear that the simple act of wearing a mask doesn’t trigger a potential heightened criminal prison sentence.
The bill reads: whoever “while in disguise, including wearing a mask, injures, oppresses, threatens or intimidates any person…in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured him by the Constitution…”
The “injuries, oppresses, threatens or intimidates” language comes directly from existing federal civil rights statutes dating from 1948.
PURPOSE OF THE CONGRESSIONAL BILL
“To amend title 18, United States Code, to provide penalty enhancements for committing certain offenses while in disguise, and for other purposes,” according to the text of the Bill.
LIKE THE UNMASKED KKK
The great irony about a law designed to unmask antifa is that of the 18 states that have anti-masking laws, the majority were written into law in the mid-20th century to unmask the KKK.
— Jack Smith IV (@JackSmithIV) July 10, 2018
Donovan’s office provided Big League Politics with the following information:
“UNMASKING ANTIFA ACT” FACT SHEET
“People put on the masks so that we can all become anonymous, right? And then, therefore, we are able to move more freely and do what we need to do, whether it is illegal or not,” he said. (Scott Crow, part of antifa movement, to CNN)
- The Unmasking Antifa Act makes it a crime to interfere with protected rights while in disguise.
o Antifa and other groups have used masks to hide their identities while trying to prevent a person from exercising his/her Constitutionally-protected rights.
o The bill applies to any and all groups that deprive people from exercising their Constitutionally-protected rights.
o Some States, including Louisiana, New York, and Minnesota, have some form of the statute that either enhances penalties for those that commit a crime while wearing a mask or bans the wearing of a disguise in public.
o The bill does not impose a mandatory minimum. It increases the maximum penalty from 10 years to 15 years if crimes covered in existing civil rights statutes are committed under cover of mask or disguise.
- The language in the bill mirrors federal civil rights statutes (Title 18 U.S.C. Sec. 241), which prohibit “two or more persons [from conspiring] to injure, oppress, threaten, or intimidate any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him by the Constitution…”
o According to the Department of Justice, the “offense is punishable by a range of imprisonment up to a life term or the death penalty.”
- Recent violent acts by masked protestors reinforce the need for this bill:
o February 2017, Berkeley: “Black-clad protesters wearing masks threw Molotov cocktails and smashed windows at the student union center where the Yiannopoulos event was to be held.”
o June 2017, Portland Oregon: police detained a group of masked Antifa activists and seized a “large number of weapons”
o June 2017, Sacramento: 7 were stabbed in the clash between white supremacists and counter-protestors. “Many of the counter-protesters wore masks, making them difficult to identify on video by law enforcement.”
o August 2017, Berkeley: “Some anti-fascist protesters, wearing black and with their faces covered, chased or beat Trump supporters and organizers who had scheduled and then canceled the ‘anti-Marxist’ rally, citing concerns over safety.”
- August 2017, Berkeley: video of four masked protestors kicking, punching, and beating with a stick a man lying on the ground trying to shield himself from the attack.
- August 2017, Berkeley: video of masked mob chasing and beating a victim in the street.
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center:
“At least 18 states have “anti-masking” laws that make it a crime to wear a mask in public. Most of the laws were passed between the 1920s and the 1950s, in reaction to waves of violence perpetrated by the Klan.
Public officials argued that the laws were needed to protect the public from Klan intimidation and violence and that banning masks would aid law enforcement in identifying criminals,” they wrote.
“Over the past few years, there have been multiple events that show the need for this legislation. The Constitution was written to protect our rights – one of those being the right to free speech. Violent protesters who hide behind their masks and deprive others of their protected rights should be prosecuted, and that’s exactly what this bill would do,” said Ted Budd, member of the House Freedom Caucus, told Big League Politics.
What is good enough for the KKK is good enough for Antifa.
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