One would think that the logical way to get people to stop protesting police brutality would be to reform policing in a way that ensures that, oh I don’t know, a place like Minneapolis wouldn’t be dealing with a trial about a police killing while protests intensify over yet another Black person getting killed by police. The GOP doesn’t think logically though, and a Republican state legislator in Minnesota has introduced a bill that would prevent people who were criminally charged after being arrested at a protest from receiving student loans.
Yes, the problem isn’t that cops are Live-Action Role Playing Judge Dredd on the job; it’s that people are mad about it.
According to the Minnesota Daily, Republican state Senator David Osmek introduced the bill as the state is currently dealing with both the trial of Derek Chauvin—the former Minneapolis cop charged with killing George Floyd—and protests over the police shooting of Daunte Wright in the city of Brooklyn Center.
The proposed legislation says that “A person convicted of a criminal offense related to the person’s illegal conduct at a protest, demonstration, rally, civil unrest, or march is ineligible for any type of state loan, grant, or assistance, including but not limited to college student loans and grants …” The bill goes on to say that services such as food stamps and unemployment would also be made unavailable to those charged.
Essentially, Osmek is using his legislative power to try and curb people from using their First Amendment right to protest. I don’t know about y’all, but it really looks to me like dude is threatening people’s financial wellbeing in an effort to “cancel” dissent.
It’s also deeply bizarre that this is the crime people could have their financial wellbeing impacted by. Rape and sexual assault? According to David Osmek, that’s not worth coming for you. Protesting against state violence, though? You better watch your ass if you do that.
The legislation couldn’t come at a worse time, either. Multiple students at the University of Minnesota are currently awaiting court dates after being arrested during a protest against police brutality. Since Floyd’s death last May, Minneapolis has been the site of ongoing protests, with Wright’s death only intensifying them in recent weeks.
The current system of policing poses an existential threat to communities nationwide. Instead of threatening the people who are speaking out because they don’t want to die, it’d be great if lawmakers like Osmek actually did their fucking job and listened to what the public wants. If you want people to respect the system, then get to work building a system that’s actually respectable. Or does the “pull up your bootstraps” crowd just not have the work ethic for that?