Bewley and other Dems sign onto unconstitutional ALEC anti-protesting bill

September 24, 2019 by Barbara With

Sen. Janet Bewley, D-25

Sen. Janet Bewley (D-25), along with four other Wisconsin Democrats, have signed on to co-sponsor SB 386, dubbed the “Anti-Protestor Bill.”

SB 386 expands on original legislation that was passed in 2015, (which Bewley voted against and which was based on the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) model legislation) that related to “trespass and damage to property owned or used by an energy provider and providing a criminal penalty.”

The new bill expands the definition of “energy provider” to include water, oil, petroleum, and renewable fuel companies’ properties and allows prosecutors to impose large fines and felonies, not only on individuals who are arrested protesting, but organizations that support them.

The public hearing for SB 386’s Assembly counterpart AB 426 will be held Thursday, September 26, Wisconsin State Capitol, Room 417 North, beginning at 11 AM before the Energy and Utilities Committee. Committee Chair and ALEC member Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-84) was also co-sponsor of the 2015 legislation that SB 386 and AB 426 are amending.

Lobbyists and Labor Unions Collude with Politicians
Colluding together to lobby willing legislators to take up their cause are the American Petroleum Institute (API) and their labor unions, including LiUNA (Laborers International Union of North America). By making false and misleading claims that the lives of the pipeline workers are at grave risk from “violent” protesters, they’ve created propaganda to rationalize the unconstitutional nature of the bill as “infrastructure safety.”

The propaganda being used to sell SB 386 dates back to 2016, after Energy Transfer Partners, operating in North Dakota installing the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) through Lakota/Dakota 1851 treaty territory, teamed up with LiUNA to issue a false statement about water protectors turning violent at Standing Rock. This statement from September 6, 2016 is included in the footnotes of the memo urging Bewley and others to sign on to SB 386:

It is deeply troubling that LIUNA members and fellow tradesmen and women, who are simply trying to do their jobs and put food on the table for their families, are facing intimidation and dangerous confrontations as protests against the Dakota Access Pipeline have intensified.  Over the weekend, hundreds of protesters, illegally trespassing on private land, stormed an active construction site – risking their own injury as well as that of construction workers on site.

The event that LiUNA is referencing was an incident on September 6, 2016, when DAPL bulldozed over the sacred burial sites of the Standing Rock Sioux, just one day after the Tribe had drawn maps to indicate where DAPL should not dig. As their bulldozers destroyed those sites, water protectors raced to the area, only to be met by security guards with unlicensed attack dogs which they set loose on the protectors.

After this incident, an arrest warrant was issued by the Morton County Sheriff for journalist Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, accusing her of entering private property to conduct interviews and participating in “a riot.” If convicted, journalist Goodman would have faced months or even years in jail. In November 2016, North Dakota judge John Grinsteiner ruled that “the state lacked probable cause” for the riot charge, blocking prosecutors from moving forward with the controversial prosecution.

On November 20, 2016, as reported by Honor the Earth:

Hundreds of water protectors were injured at the Standing Rock encampments when law enforcement blasted them with water cannons in freezing temperatures Sunday evening. The attacks came as water protectors used a semi-truck to remove burnt military vehicles that police had chained to concrete barriers weeks ago, blocking traffic on Highway 1806.  Water protectors’ efforts to clear the road and improve access to the camp for emergency services were met with tear gas, an LRAD (Long Range Acoustic Device), stinger grenades, rubber bullets, and indiscriminate use of a water cannon with an air temperature of 26 degrees Fahrenheit. Some flares shot by law enforcement started grass fires which were ignored by the water cannons and had to be extinguished by water protectors.  Law enforcement also shot down three media drones and targeted journalists with less lethal rounds.

Out-of-State Deputies
Law enforcement agencies from all over the country, including those from Dane County were called in to assist Morton County in their unconstitutional arrests. On October 10, 2016, Madison Alder Rebecca Kemble was serving as a trained legal observer to monitor a peaceful ceremony on Indigenous People’s Day. She also came bearing a resolution,  “Expressing Solidarity with Indigenous Resistance to the Dakota Access Pipeline” to give to the Standing Rock Tribal Chairman, David Archambault II, which was passed unanimously by the Madison Common Council and the Mayor. Despite her hat clearly identifying her as a legal monitor of the peace, Kemble was violently and unconstitutionally arrested, her equipment damaged and bodily and mental harm was inflicted on her.  Kemble was stripped searched, jailed overnight and charged with criminal trespass, inciting a riot, resisting arrest and destruction of evidence.

During the non-violent protests at Standing Rock, Morton County law enforcement conducted what many witnessed as one of the greatest human right violations in modern American history, perpetrated on American citizens on U.S. soil by the U.S. government using publicly funded law enforcement and privatized military forces to suspend the U.S. Constitution for the benefit of Energy Transfer Partners. The violations of constitutional, civil and human rights were so severe that Amnesty International sent in delegates to observe.

Water protectors were repeatedly illegally assaulted and arrested, denied bail, strip searched and thrown into cages, numbered like concentration camp prisoners, pulled over in illegal traffic stops, made to endure rubber bullets, water hoses in below freezing weather, chemical and sound attacks, and 24-hour surveillance helicopters flying over the camp. All the while ETP was openly allowed to operate without proper permits.

November 20, 2016 Water Protectors being assaulted by Energy Transfer Partners’ armed forces.

Illegal Arrests
Throughout this critical attempt to suspend the constitution, ETP was aided and abetted by propaganda and lies issued by Morton County Sheriff’s office on a daily basis. One of them—that the water protectors were violent—is being used today to justify SB 386.

Throughout the months that water protectors camped in North Dakota, over 700 were unjustly, unconstitutionally and violently arrested and charged. Morton County public law enforcement, operating as the oil company’s private army, worked side by side with Tiger Swan, a private security firm, to defeat the non-violent water protectors. The same tactics the U.S. uses to overthrow governments abroad were used on Standing Rock. According to the Intercept:

The documents provide the first detailed picture of how TigerSwan, which originated as a U.S. military and State Department contractor helping to execute the global war on terror, worked at the behest of its client Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access Pipeline, to respond to the indigenous-led movement that sought to stop the project.

Energy Transfer Partners ended up paying North Dakota $15,000,000 for the use of state law enforcement. In doing so, ETP successfully rewarded Morton County law enforcement for abandoning their charge to protect the people, suspend the constitution and assist the oil company in their hostile takeover of our resources and civil and human rights.

The majority of water protectors who were charged had to return to North Dakota to stand trial. The North Dakota courts were so swamped the Supreme Court declare a “legal emergency.” Most charges were dropped, as were Goodman’s and Kemble’s, and protectors were released for lack of evidence. It took a year for Morton County to return Kemble’s equipment.

Standing Rock was a test for ETP, and all the other oil corporations API represents. They accomplished their goal to get DAPL up and running no matter what. They also proved that they can indeed get elected officials to help them suspend the constitutional rights of the people they are supposed to be representing for the benefit of the corporation. And combining local law enforcement with professional private security firms proved they are capable of taking over the U.S. government and using its own forces against its own people.

Post-Standing Rock efforts to ramp up the intimidation
After Standing Rock, API ramped up their efforts to pass these Anti-Protestor Bills, a wave of which has swept across the country. The International Center for Not-For-Profit Law and Polluter Watch have been tracking the legislation since November 2016.

According to the ACLU, on September 18, 2019 the South Dakota Anti-Protestor Act was blocked in Federal Court, which struck down the unconstitutional provisions of the recently-enacted “Riot Boosting” Act that threatened activists who encourage or organize protests with fines, civil liabilities, and/or criminal penalties of up to 25 years in prison.

Bewley Represents Lake Superior
Bewley’s District 25 includes the Chequamegon Bay area of Lake Superior, home to the Bad River and Red Cliff Bands of Lake Superior Chippewa, the Kakagon Sloughs where their wild rice grows, and the entire Penokee Watershed that serves hundreds of thousands of people. Many in her district were water protectors at Standing Rock.

Bad River Watershed

The Bad River Tribe has recently sued Enbridge for operating a tar sands pipeline illegally on their reservation since 2013 when their easement expired. After years of mediation to get Enbridge to comply with their legal obligation to decommission the line, the Tribe was finally forced to sue.

In the process of monitoring the 60-year-old lines, the Tribe discovered several stretches of pipeline that are unsupported and on the verge of failing, causing Bad River to call a state of emergency. The Tribe has petitioned Enbridge to stop the flow to prevent an irreparable catastrophe that could lead their genocide. Enbridge has refused.

Photo of 25-40 feet of Enbridge Line 5 pipe unsupported and exposed to the elements at the Denomie Creek tributaries on the Bad River Reservation

While this lawsuit makes its way through the courts, Bewley is supporting the addition of these foreign oil/tar sands pipeline corporations into the bill, even though Enbridge is illegally using the watershed in her district and is putting her constituency at grave risk.

Since the Canadian for-profit corporation’s pipelines are simply pass-throughs, they do not serve Wisconsin: they pass through Wisconsin to Michigan, and then back to Ontario; therefore they cannot be considered a service utility in Wisconsin. SB 386 legalizes the lie that Enbridge is a Wisconsin “energy provider” and those who support this bill are propping up this lie, including Bewley.

Bewley’s bill allows for any person on a “utility’s” land—whether on a pipeline easement route or an office building/headquarters—to be charged with a felony. Much like at Standing Rock, the corporations will be able to falsely claim that the peaceful protestors are harming the pipeline. Because the foreign for-profit energy corporations would now be considered “public Wisconsin utilities,” the door opens for Enbridge—even while operating illegally in northern Wisconsin—to legally use local law enforcement to arrest and criminalize protestors exercising First Amendment protected rights. The cost of that law enforcement will now fall to the people. This successfully eliminates the $15,000,000 pay off ETP had to make to Morton County.

Enbridge can then direct local law enforcement to arrest, jail and intimidate peaceful protesters, who then have to hire a lawyer, go to court, and pay the cost to prove they were merely exercising their First Amendment protected rights. Local units of government will be stuck with the law enforcement tab, and Enbridge gets to continue to operate illegally.

Bewley’s Response
Bewley claims to know nothing about the Standing Rock propaganda API and LiUNA are using to sway people to support the bill.

However, Bewley is now using the same false narrative of danger to pipeline workers to justify her support of the expansion of what was a corporate fascist bill to begin with. She cites two instances of pipeline vandalism in Wisconsin that she is basing her propaganda on: in one, water protectors chained themselves to Enbridge equipment in Douglas County and did $178 in damage; in the other, equipment was damaged but no one was injured. No violence against any pipeline workers was reported in either case. In both cases, Enbridge did not have permits to operate. Several people were arrested.

These cases pale in comparison to the violence and unconstitutional actions that took place at Standing Rock, instigated by the very tar sands pipeline corporations Bewley now wishes to protect and give more power to. It explains why people chain themselves to equipment in times when legislators are colluding with corporations to pass unjust laws that benefit only the corporation at the expense of the people and water. That is the definition of modern corporate fascism.

No Citizen Support
Bewley did not consult with her constituents about SB 386 before she signed on to co-sponsor. Her constituents have not been demanding this legislation. By her admission, she was asked by the labor unions to support it, the ones colluding with API to push the propaganda. She has not held a hearing in her district.

When asked why she is co-sponsoring the legislation in light of the fact that Enbridge is operating illegally in her district and Bad River is suing them, she side steps the issue.

Lastly, Bewley claims that the added language that exempts those monitoring for compliance with public safety laws makes protesting more protected. Kemble’s violent and unconstitutional arrest while she was wearing a vest and hat that identified her as a legal witness/observer proves otherwise. It demonstrates that law enforcement who are in service to the oil company can and will do anything in the heat of the moment, including and especially violating citizens First Amendment rights. That is how the constitution gets suspended.

Withdraw and Shut. It. Down.
Clearly on the wrong side of the issue, Bewley needs to immediately withdraw her support of the bill, and renounce Enbridge illegally operating in her district. She needs to hold a press conference and join with Bad River to demand publicly that Enbridge shut down Line 5 immediately.

Instead, she is abandoning her constituents and her duty to protect Lake Superior. She is working to protect the corporations over the rights and needs of her constituents and the water she claims to love. Her support of SB 386 will make it even easier to criminalize her own constituents as they protect their land and resources from a foreign corporation that is operating illegally in her district, something she herself refuses to do.

Democrats sponsoring the bill are listed below. Please share this information with friends and neighbors, and contact these legislators and urge them to withdraw their support of SB 386.

Urge Governor Evers to veto.

Representative Christine Sinicki (D – Milwaukee)
Assembly District 20
Room 114 North
State Capitol
PO Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-8588
(888) 534-0020

Fax:
(608) 282-3620

District Phone:
(414) 481-7667

Email:
Rep.Sinicki@legis.wisconsin.gov

Representative Jason Fields (D – Milwaukee)
Assembly District 11

Room 320 West
State Capitol
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708
(608) 266-3756
(888) 534-0011

Fax:
(608) 282-3611

Email:
Rep.Fields@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Janet Bewley (D – Mason)
Madison Office:
Room 126 South
State Capitol
PO Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

Telephone:
(608) 266-3510
(800) 469-6562

Fax:
(608) 282-3565

Email:
Sen.Bewley@legis.wisconsin.gov

Senator Patty Schachtner (D – Somerset)

Senate District 10

Room 3 South
State Capitol
PO Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

Telephone:
(608) 266-7745
Fax:
(608) 282-3550

Representative Don Vruwink (D – Milton)

Assembly District 43

Room 6 North
State Capitol
PO Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

Telephone:
(608) 266-3790
(888) 534-0043

Fax:
(608) 282-3643

Email:
Rep.Vruwink@legis.wisconsin.gov

 

 

 

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One Comment on “Bewley and other Dems sign onto unconstitutional ALEC anti-protesting bill”

  1. Bernie Draxler Laurich September 25, 2019 at 8:43 pm #

    WE THE PEOPLE – Have the right to assemble and stand against injustices. This bill is unconstitutional and is shameful that you support such a horrible bill. Standing against the people is not what you were elected to do. PLEASE DO NOT SUPPORT THIS ANTI PROTESTING BILL.

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