Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin Signs Law Imposing Hefty Fines and Lengthy Jail Terms for Anti-Pipeline Protests

By Jerri-Lynn Scofield, who has worked as a securities lawyer and a derivatives trader. She now spends much of her time in Asia and is currently researching a book about textile artisans. She also writes regularly about legal, political economy, and regulatory topics for various consulting clients and publications, as well as scribbles occasional travel pieces for The National.

Last Wednesday, Oklahoma governor Mary Fallin approved HB 1123, a bill aimed at stifling protests against oil and gas pipelines. The measure took effect immediately.

The new Oklahoma statute declares an “emergency” exists and creates a new category of misdemeanor, as well as two additional felony counts. The statute imposes draconian penalties on protestors convicted of trespassing at a critical infrastructure facility— including chemical plants, liquid natural gas terminals, pipelines, ports and other transportation facilities, power plants, railways, and refineries (section 1 D 1 a-p).

As summarized in Oklahoma Trespassing Laws Beefed Up Against Protesters by Okenergytoday.com, the specified penalties are serious:

The misdemeanor level allows for a fine of $1,000 and up to six months in county jail for willfully trespassing onto property containing critical infrastructure (Jerri-Lynn here: See section 1 A of HB 1123).

The first felony level allows for a fine of no less than $10,000 and a prison sentence for up to 10 years for individuals that willfully trespass with the intention to damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment, impede or inhibit operations of the facility. The final felony level is for a fine not less than $100,000 and a prison sentence for up to 10 years for successfully damaging, destroying, vandalizing, defacing or tampering with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility (Jerri-Lynn here: See sections 1 A and B of HB 1123).

The statute targets not only protestors on-the-ground, but organizations– such as environmental groups– that “conspire” with them to trespass. Section C of HB 1123 specifies:

If an organization is found to be a conspirator with persons who are found to have committed any of the crimes described in subsection A or B of this section, the conspiring organization shall be punished by a fine that is ten times the amount of said fine authorized by the appropriate provision of this section.

Conspiring Organizations

The Intercept has teased out two of the more serious implications of targeting organizations as “conspirators” in Oklahoma Governor Signs Anti-Protest Law Imposing Huge Fines On “Conspirator” Organizations. First is the breadth of activities targeted:

The Oklahoma law signed this week is unique, however, in its broad targeting of groups “conspiring” with protesters accused of trespassing. It takes aim at environmental organizations Republicans have blamed for anti-pipeline protests that have become costly for local governments.

And second is the formidable level of penalties that may be imposed on these “conspiring” organizations,  with a maximum fine of 1 million dollars for the top felony category.

Further Pending Oklahoma Legislation

Separately, Oklahoma lawmakers also passed HB 2128, a vicarious liability measure, that Governor Fallin has yet to sign. That legislation would make protestors and those who help them– say, by hosting protestors– liable for the economic damages caused by trespassers, as reported by The Oklahoman in New Oklahoma law could mean heavy fines, jail time for pipeline protesters:

On the same day Fallin signed [HB 1123], lawmakers approved another one that would make trespassers liable for damages to real or personal property. House Bill 2128 also extends civil liability to a “person or entity that compensates, provides consideration or remunerates a person for trespassing.”

The bill’s author, state Rep. Mark McBride, said the so-called vicarious liability provision would apply to people who give lodging to those who are later arrested for trespassing. He said the idea for the bill came from actions along the Dakota Access Pipeline.

Democrats opposed the bill because it would allow lawsuits even if there is no conviction. A person could be hauled into court to pay for damage if they are, at a minimum, arrested on suspicion of trespassing.

“So at the end of the day, you can be arrested, acquitted, and somebody can be held liable for your completely lawful activity?” asked state Rep. Collin Walke, D-Oklahoma City.

I want to note here that the scope of exactly what activity might be sufficient to trigger liability under this provision– if Oklahoma indeed enacts it, as seems likely– is unsettled, as The Intercept reports:

“That would be for the courts to decide,” replied Rep. Mark McBride, the bill’s author.

Doug Parr has represented numerous environmental activists in Oklahoma protest cases. In an interview with the Intercept the attorney noted the liability bill’s loose wording. “Say they lock themselves to a piece of construction equipment, and a claim can be made that there were damages from that trespass,” Parr said. “Does this statute create a civil action for a pipeline company to then go after a person or organization that posted bond or helped pay for a lawyer for that civil disobedience?”

Some national environmental organisations– such as the Sierra Club– already have policies that eschew civil disobedience tactics. The Oklahoma statute would only lead other prudent organizations to embrace this excess of caution. Turning again to The Intercept:

Johnson Bridgwater, head of the Oklahoma chapter of the Sierra Club, which opposes the Diamond pipeline, noted that the Club has an official policy against participation in civil disobedience. (Its board suspended the rule in 2013 before executive director Michael Brune was arrested in a protest calling for then-President Barack Obama to reject the Keystone XL Pipeline). However, he said “We don’t necessarily know everyone who’s attending the events,” adding, “There is a strong and real fear that this could be used as an attempt to crush a group or a chapter of Sierra Club unfairly.”

Additional background information on the Oklahoma legislation– including details about corporate support and funding– is spelled out in this Steve Horn piece I crossposted in April from DeSmogBlog, Newspaper Owned By Fracking Billionaire Leaks Memo Calling Pipeline Opponents Potential “Terrorists”.

Republicans Target Protests in State Measures

The Oklahoma measures are part of a national effort by a plethora of Republican lawmakers in several states to crack down on mass protests, as The Washington Post reported in Republican lawmakers introduce bills to curb protesting in at least 18 states in February. Common Dreams in April boosted that count to 19 in UN: Americans’ Right to Protest is in Grave Danger Under Trump, reporting on a UN investigation into anti-protest laws under consideration since Trump’s November electoral victory.

As the Post points out, many of these more general anti-protest laws raise serious Constitutional issues, and are unlikely to survive judicial challenge:

Critics doubt whether many of the laws would pass Constitutional muster. “The Supreme Court has gone out of its way on multiple occasions to point out that streets, sidewalks and public parks are places where [First Amendment] protections are at their most robust,” said Lee Rowland, a senior attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union.

There are a few problems with that sanguine analysis, however. First, if and when these measures are passed and unless and until the statutes are overturned, they will likely have a chilling effect on political dissent. And secondly, they will almost certainly contribute to promoting aggressive policing responses against protest activity– as if local police forces need any more encouragement or incentive to rough up– or worse– protestors.

States including both North Dakota and South Dakota have also embraced the more subtle Oklahoma approach targeting trespass, rather than dissent per se. If carefully drawn, any measures enacted to dissuade and punish trespass on property not typically regarded as a public sphere– whether or not privately owned–  are not as vulnerable to the elementary constitutional challenges discussed in The Washington Post’s account quoted above.

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71 comments

  1. Lou Mannheim

    The bill is ridiculous, but please correct your headline. The bill is for trespassing, not protests.

    1. ambrit

      A difference without a distinction. Many times, the trespass is itself the protest. In essence, a counter claim by those purporting to represent the common good against the claims of “private” interests.
      The other troubling claim made in the legislation is that “guilt by association” is now official policy. One could blame this on “Conservative” elements, but the same tactic is being utilized against the present Administration by the DNC. For example, Flynn goes to Moscow and has dinner with Russian power players. Hence, he must be a “New Soviet” stooge.

  2. Gregory Hill

    Only the blind do not see the vile winds of Oppression that flow from the fascist villains!

    One Big Step for “The Man,”
    One Big Step toward Civil War!

    (I believe that “Civil War” must be in the form of a drive massive resistance movement; peaceful but massive.)

    This needs to be blocked now, then ruled unconstitutional in Federal Court. This will make its way to the Supreme Court, and Heaven save them if they do not overturn these CHILLING actions upon our Civil Liberties.

    Idiot Sooners! How’s the fracking thing going for you? The Man’s hand that feeds you, also smacks you around like a ……

  3. ebr

    I am going to ask the commentariat to change my mind.

    Yeah, these are poorly written laws that, if not overturned by the courts or state legislatures, and that conservatives would use them to ban more than “shouting at a pipeline” — and yet I do not believe that “shouting at a pipeline” is a an effective political strategy. Is not the end goal to end global warming by ending our carbon economy for something — well “other”? But so long as we are a democracy there will always be a constituency for carbon extraction — because it is old & known & trusted, because it provides good-ish jobs (at a time when there are not many good-ish jobs to go around) And because heat doesn’t come from a furnace nor does food from a grocery store. So then, instead of yelling at this pipeline or that pipeline, why don’t we just tax carbon until it screams? Or subsidize the snot out of wind/solar/nuclear, or some other type strategy?

    “Yelling at a pipeline” is a great way to rally the base (I hear the excitement in my friends voices when they talk about it) but it does not expand the political base either, because (please take this as constructive criticism) many Americans also like yelling at hippies. There is even a small part of me that enjoys yelling at hippies, and I agree with them. There is just too much snotty smugness on the left — they are all such Mrs. Jellyby’s looking at Africa — and they are just so bad at talking to people who don’t agree with them. If “yelling at pipelines” is banned, then maybe there would be more coalition building with blue collar (and no collar) parts of the nation. But bring this up in polite conversation & you get the “If you believe that, then you are a toad” to which I say “Well then I guess I am a toad”

    If I am wrong it would be because “yelling at a pipeline” does in fact delay or stop the building of pipelines, and that this in turn as a meaningful impact on world-wide carbon use, or that “yelling at a pipeline” builds a coalition beyond the base. Any thoughts anyone?

    1. grayslady

      Taxes don’t address three issues that I can think of, just off hand:
      1. Building pipelines through areas with fragile ecosystems or with critical aquifers.
      2. Inadequate or poorly designed leak monitoring.
      3. Whether pipelines should even be allowed for product that will be primarily shipped to offshore buyers.

      1. RepubAnon

        Taxes attack this indirectly, by making petrochemical fuels more expensive – higher prices, lower demand… even with price inelastic goods (such as the fuel one needs to drive to work).

        Tax carbon enough, and people will shift to wind / solar, etc as less expensive alternatives. With lower demand, pipelines won’t be economically feasible – so they won’t be built.

        Laws protecting our water and ecosystems would help, too – but taxing petrochemicals enough to make Koch Industries lose money on everything they do would help, too – in many ways.

      2. different clue

        Here is a WorldWatch Institute article about James Hansen’s Fee and Dividend plan against fossil carbon sales.

        The article explains the difference between Fee and Dividend as against Cap and Trade and may help clear up confusion between those two approaches which has been carefully fostered by deceitful disunderstanding and disinterpretation.

        The anti-fossil-carbon fee is intended to rise high enough over time to torture the merchants of carbon into raising their prices to keep up with it to the extent of torturing people into not buying fossil carbon based anything because the fee-jacked price will be made too torturously high to afford. The goal is to exterminate the fossil carbon industries through price-torture.

        The “dividend” part of it is to send equal shares of the raised fee-torture money back to every legal resident so they can either buy things made with less or no fossil carbon so the money will go farther . . . or buy things based on fossil carbon so the money will be eaten right back up in carbon-torture fees and go almost nowhere at all. By torturing the price of everything dependent on fossil carbon above what people can afford, people will be default-forced to turn to less torture-priced low-fossil or no-fossil alternatives.

        Obviously the same Lords of Carbon who write these pro-fossil laws to begin with will also obstruct Fee and Dividend as long as they possibly can. That is why a One Hundred Million Man Boycott is necessary starting now to try to degrade and attrit the revenue streams, and hence the political power, of the Lords of Carbon till they are made too weak to prevent the application of carbon fee and dividend.

        Here is the link.
        http://www.worldwatch.org/node/5962

        1. different clue

          And no, it certainly won’t work in a Free Trade world. The only way it would work is if America FIRST disavows every Free Trade Agreement it is currently trapped in, and then BANS ALL ECONOMIC CONTACT between America and countries which do not adopt the exact same Fee and Dividend anti-carbon torture plan.

          Till that happens, you can forget about any action of any sort whatsoever to control carbon skydumping and the pipelines and coal mines which make it possible.

        2. different clue

          (Technically, I think Hansen considers coal the greatest danger, so he would set the carbon fee-of-first-sale high enough to exterminate the thermal coal industry within a reasonable time span. Whereas the oil and gas industry would still persist shrunken down to small enough a size to where they can’t kick us around any more.)

    2. jrs

      honestly you are probably going to have a HARDER time convincing people about carbon taxes than to not yell at hippies, and yes I have seen the proposals where tax increases are then redistributed back as checks etc. so as not to hurt the poor (or middle class either depending etc.). This is humane and what any good leftist does of course, but popular seems like it may have a way to go. It’s not easy to convince people to pay more taxes for something so abstract (and like I said this can be offset and redistribute as well but). I think carbon taxes are a decent way of dealing with the problem mind you. Protests provide a rallying point, a sympathetic human side, etc. in a way arguing tax policy doesn’t either.

    3. FluffytheObeseCat

      1) These “anti-trespass” laws are intentional efforts to end run the 1st amendment to the US Constitution. They should be reviewed with that in mind. IMO, with a withering glance.

      2) Anti-pipeline protests are about the only robust environmental actions going on right now (which is exactly why they are being targeted by oil patch elites and their lackeys). Your ideas about wiser, more worthwhile focus points are great. However, our federal government and state governments in the southern Plains are of-the-oil barons, for-the-oil barons and by-the-oil barons. No one in the 110th Congress or the Trump White House is going to enact carbon taxes. They are on track to levy wind and sun taxes right now, with their efforts to take away “subsidies” from renewable generation businesses. (An effort I might find less objectionable if they were also, say, charging pipeline companies for the cost to taxpayers of eminent domaining land for their right-of-ways, or ‘looking at’ the cost of depletion allowance tax breaks or…….. eliminating any of the other unique subsidies that make the oil and gas industries appear more cost-effective than they truly are.)

      3) Clinton/Pelosi limousine liberals are not the people chaining themselves to backhoes at Standing Rock. Not even their kids are out there. It’s regular people.

      1. different clue

        How effective would be a protest based on hundreds of thousands of people all doing their part to keep the targets saturated with round-the-clock phone calls? Polite phone calls, but persistent in expressing their dismay over the law. And heavy enough to tie up the phone lines to where no OK legislator or governor can conduct any official or personal business from office or home or cell phone? And keep it up for months or years till the anti-protest law is repealed?

        1. different clue

          oh, and . . . voluminous computer correspondence from concerned people from all around the world? Just sincere enough to not meet the legal definition of a DOS attack?

          1. MoiAussie

            They’d simply stop answering the phone or reading their email, merely record it, and probably flag all the calling numbers and email sources as “for investigation” in the big database. If the problem persisted, that would be followed with expansion of the legislation to include such “harassment by vexatious communication” within the definition of criminal support for trespassing.

            The idea that the ability to call or write constitutes some form of meaningful power against the “targets” is a delusion. Beating them in the legislatures or the courts, or causing them real pain in other ways is the only hope.

            1. different clue

              They already flag everything in the big database. The big database isn’t for catching problems. It’s for “sweeping it all up, related and unrelated” for the purpose of blackmail or extortion or faking a case with after-the-fact cherry-picked and fake-fitted together databits to persecute someone who has been targeted for some other reason. So it is pointless to be afraid of the big database any more or to think that you can avoid getting flagged by behaving this way or that way.

              If one million, or 5 million or ten million people start calling and keep calling the targeted decision makers, will The SystemLords call them all “vexatious communication harassers”? If they do, will they try to try them all? And if they do that, they will simply be “heightening the contradictions” by showing millions of honest well-intended phone callers and email writers that they too will be disrespected and dismissed. This will lead to rising levels of hatred on the part of millions of people who are still “mainstream” enough and “citizen” enough to make a call or write and email. It would further reveal and make plane the anti-legitimacy of a regime which would pass such laws. Are various American state-gov regimes or the DC FedRegime already ready to make themselves so hotly and personally and acidly hated? If they are, then they will pass such laws.

              Till such laws are passed, if enough millions of people choose to call and write the targets and keep calling and keep writing, then the targets may indeed stop taking calls and stop reading email. But that would mean that they would stop conducting a lot of their business.

              So if you are counselling us to pre-surrender before even trying, I would suggest that your counsel of pre-surrender is perhaps premature.

              1. MoiAussie

                Beating them in the legislatures or the courts or causing them real pain in other ways, as I suggested, is not surrender. Swamping them with calls and emails and doing no more, seems rather futile. It may work if millions do it, but I can’t see that’s likely to happen. Is a new ‘murkan revalooshun really just around the corner?

                1. different clue

                  Who can say? Different people will try different things. All different individual persons should try the things they individually believe in because they will do those things most effectively.

                  In a country of 300 million people, 1 % is still 3 million people. That would be a lot of phone calls and emails.

            2. hunkerdown

              By making peaceful protest risky, they make less peaceful but more certain protest economically rational.

    4. lyman alpha blob

      If you really want to stop fossil fuel production, you need to hit the energy companies in the wallet.

      Reduce demand – take the bus.

      1. different clue

        As much as Political Identyan Leftists disrespect personal conservation lifestyling and other such individual action, such conservation lifestyling can have an overall social/economic effect in tune with the numbers of people practicing such conservation lifestyling. As a mere commenter, I personally hope that other mere commenters might offer information about personal/family conservation lifestyling in threads of relevant posts such as this one.

        I wonder whether the most effective target for conservation lifestyling might be electricity. I offer that thought because it takes a ton of coal to make a pound of electricity . . . so to speak. So every pound of electricity NOT USED equals a ton of coal NOT BOUGHT and therefor NOT SOLD. If my logic here is vaguely correct, advice and links to information sites and sources about how to live okay less electrically might be very useful.

        1. different clue

          And it occurs to me that the fact that utilities lately use more natgas and oil than coal to make electricity, that electricity use-reduction would be even MORE effective, because it would force the use of less natgas and oil which is precisely what these pipelines are being built for.
          And it takes a ton of natgas to make a pound of electricity . . . same principle as for coal. So using pounds and pounds less electricity means forcing the utility to buy tons and tons less natgas.

    1. different clue

      A massive consumer slowdown would be one thing a massive resistance movement could do.

      A massive passive obstruction movement.

      A hundred million pairs of Strong Blue Hands wrapped around the throat of Big Pipeline . . . squeezing squeezing squeezing . . . choking off the revenue streams to Big Pipeline.

  4. Annotherone

    Feels like I’m living in a police state! The fact that Fallin remains Governor until the end of next year (at least) makes things even worse. She’s horrific.

    I’d not support trespass or defacing or destroying equipment, but this bill is way too heavy-handed.
    If there were evidence of a concerted (or any) effort to address the over-use of fossil fuels (ahem…wars) protesters might feel less inclined to go too far. There is no effort made in Oklahoma, except, perhaps by the wind turbine farms, a common sight in parts of the state. Even in that regard there are efforts afoot to remove subsidies, and so prevent wider spread of wind turbines..
    http://thewindfallcoalition.com/

    Our senator Inhofe long ago declared climate change to be a hoax. The current state of affairs ought not to be a surprise – but it still is.

    1984 isn’t on the horizon any longer, it’s almost with us, here in OK.

    1. Synoia

      What is sad about 1984 is that I believed it fiction, or a warning. Not an instruction manual.

      Sometimes I winder how much funding Google and Facebook received, or revenue now receive from Three Letter Agencies.

    2. Art Eclectic

      You ARE living in a police state. That’s what you get when you elect authoritarians. They WILL have order and the trains will run on time. Daddy just needs to knock some heads to get people to behave right, that’s the Republican MO. They play Daddy to the rubes out in voter land while opening up the cupboards to the rentiers and grifters to rob the place blind, because “job creators”.

      Just wait a few more years, you’ll have armed guards at your grade schools, any protest will be quashed immediately, you’ll follow whichever religion you’re told to or be asked to leave, churches are already been primed to become election canvassers (but only for the Right people), and it will be open season for any gun carrying white dude to shoot anyone who they remotely feel threatens them (which certainly will include women and children because they’re totally expendable).

      1. Annotherone

        I didn’t elect ’em – but too many Okies did, and do. :( In that “few more years” husband and I will likely be part of the red dust of this state, no longer caring what goes on. It’s not a happy prospect for his grandkids and great-grandkids, though. I trust they will have had the sense to get out sooner rather than later – a few already have.

        1. lyman alpha blob

          Heh. Used to be that all the Okies wanted to get in sooner, thus the sobriquet, now it’s the other way around.

          You’d think the man-made earthquakes, earthquakes ferchrissakes!!!!!, might give the government and regulators pause. Instead they double down.

          What’s it going to take before they come to their senses, Tulsa falling into an abyss?

      2. Ian

        A wonderful quote from someone on the French election but I believe it applies to the US general election last year as well. “I shouldn’t have to choose between two forms of fascism”

  5. Vatch

    I looked at the text of the law, and the definition of “critical infrastructure facility” appears to be overly inclusive. For example, railroad tracks are included, so long as they are either enclosed by a fence or there is a sign warning against trespassing (Section 1, D, 1, i). Also included are “below or aboveground pipeline or piping” (Section 1, D, 1, p). Below ground pipeline? That could be anywhere. Railroad tracks? Did the legislators even bother to read the bill? It’s not very long.

    Perhaps the governor and legislators in Oklahoma need to be reminded of the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that this occurred in Scott Pruitt’s home state.

  6. Pajarito

    New law also useful in deterring citizen observation of “infrastructure” leaks, spills, toxic releases, poor practices, absence of safeguards and other environmental and human health regulation. Watch, before long, citizen reporting on leak, spill, or break, etc. will be charged under this law and any organization they are associated with targeted. Mission accomplished, chills more than just protest.

  7. Wellstone's Ghost

    Will there be a call to boycott Oklahoma, similar to the North Carolina boycott over anti LGBTQ legislation? Seems reasonable. Screw Oklahoma.

    1. different clue

      Well . . . not “screw” Oklahoma, exactly. Rather, torture non-petro Oklahoma into torturing petro-Oklahoma into repealing this pure petroleum law.

  8. Alex Morfesis

    I luv this legislation…i really do…(stupid fascist wannabeez)…”and those who trespass against us”…and stupid prayer breakfast gnatzees who insist in hyper redlandz the “good book” presides over all…

    “bear” with me…

    because those who short securities do not realize this law will kill all derivative markets…

    this is oklahoma…where there is plenty of case law where the term “trespass” has been defined as an intentional tort and has had rulings against corporations and their actions…

    Even worse…this being oklahoma…a forgotten scotus ruling from 1942 and the state of oklahoma…

    one key term in the case
    is “moral turpitude”…

    those who hold certain registrations and licenses having to do with the fire industry might recall those two words usually mean getting caught with the hand in the cookie jar when one should have been cutting the lawn…

    not good for capacity to keep the lights on that moral turp stuff…

    The second part, was this scotus ruling(which everyone tends to have forgotten) specifically stated that if a white collar criminality was not also included in the punishments
    it was unconstitutional
    (14th amendment…equal protection)

    To be interpreted(forgotten obviously today) if only working stiffs get nailed, and not the white collar bosses…the law is unconstitutional…

    The case is probably forgotten since it had to do with sterilization of criminals…

    Skinner v oklahoma
    316 us 535 (1942)

    Gotta luv these black boot loving types who think they are so clever…

    There is no limiting language in this rather short winded piece of legislation…

    Didnt some brilliant person here just mention about people not reading or knowing history…

    Thankfully most legislators are failed or failing lawyers…not the brightest bulbs in the planet…that’s why they need all that revolving door staff and lobbyists to point where to place their notation with that plum they were just handed

    1. perpetualWAR

      You wrongly assume that the black robes won’t fall in line. They are now overturning hundreds of years of precedent regarding property law. All so that the criminal banks win.

      The black robes will fall in line and overturn any historical decisions that are mandatory to allow the continued rape of the populace.

      1. Alex Morfesis

        Please don’t throw all the jurists under the bus…if a defense lawyer pleads a weak case full of holes there is no fixing it in appeal…there are a handfull of attorneys in this country who understand title law and securitization…the other side almost always folds because since they know those defense lawyers built a solid case….have not been impressed with Any of the self proclaimed media savvy foreclosure defense attorneys who then hold a press conference complaining they wuz rahbbed…

        They just aint that good…it is not the judges…

        1. perpetualWAR

          LOL. Its the judges. Oh boy is it the judges.

          In WA state, the judges have eliminated statute of limitations for mortgage debt. Like, what?

        2. Randall Stephens

          It is the judges.

          A typical “work-a-day” foreclosure involves Ginormous Bank v. Mr & Mrs J. Q. Public (who may, or may not, be represented by counsel). Often the facts of the case are quite simple. Enough so an average 12 year old understands the facts, the concepts involved, and the result the facts and concepts point to directly, and unambiguously.

          J. Q. Public: Your honor, the note does not identify or name plaintiff as payee therefore they aren’t entitled to enforce the note. We move for dismissal.

          G. Bank: Your honor, it is true we aren’t named as payee … But … Well … We want the home anyway. Because … Well, because we’re Ginormous Bank.

          Court: Motion to dismiss denied. Judgment for plaintiff G. Bank. Next.

          If we were to start randomly reviewing cases I’d bet you dollars to doughnuts I’d find 100 cases (or a thousand, or a million) supporting “It is the judges” before you’d find 100 cases (or a thousand, or a million) supporting “It is not the judges.”

  9. Disturbed Voter

    The USA is owned by whoever owns Federal Treasuries and State debt (for those that allow their state to go into the red). Also whoever owns securities that originate in corporations chartered in the US. You don’t control what you don’t own. China, Japan, the Fed (a private organization), Swiss banks, pension funds etc. Two thirds of home owners actually are squatting on mortgage company property, and with eminent domain … technically all the land belongs to the government. Entrepreneurs who have issued securities, or who owe money to a bank … are not business owners either, they are owned. This has been increasingly true for over 100 years now. Those who want to move taxation to land, rather than infrastructure on the land, really aren’t offering an alternative … simply systematizing eminent domain.

    So if you aren’t an owner, you aren’t a real voter, not a real citizen. The heads of China are more USA citizens than you are, because they are owners. This all played out in the early part of the Book of Exodus. The people sold themselves into bondage. And lately, if you are in bondage, you lose the right to vote.

    So why would the owners tolerate your protests? It is only refusal to overcome cognitive dissonance that keeps you from recognizing reality.

    1. different clue

      So . . . your advice to us would be – what, exactly? “Lie back and think of England” . . . ? Is that what you deign to offer us?

  10. E Williams

    If protesters get in trouble under this Oklahoma law, in addition to the obvious first amendment argument, they might want to explore the additional argument that the state law is invalid because it is preempted by the federal pipeline safety act and DOT regulations. 49 USC 60101 et seq

  11. different clue

    If anyone wants to protest anything in OK now, they should have as many camera cellphones as possible all recording everything and sending it in realtime to remote unerasable storage places. They will want to have lawyer teams ready to go to challenge every OK official to do anything under this law. Perhaps they would want to have a large sympathiser movement outside of OK to help ongoingly pay all the legal costs, fine costs, etc.

    One wonders whether some of that infrastucture is or will be on land which could be legally argued to be Indian Treaty Land one way or another. Perhaps some OK efforts to enforce this law could be met with efforts to ban OK jurisdiction over land which can be successfully argued to not actually belong to OK.

    A movement outside of OK would have to work on the kind of boycotts which were used to back the North Carolina state-gov partway back down from its so-called “bathroom law”. And people wishing to nip this legal movement in the bud in OK before it spreads to other states would have to re-arrange their day-to-day hourly lifestyle to sweat as much pipelined gas and oil use out of it as possible. The goal would be to attrit and degrade revenue streams to oil and gas bussinesses so much that they can be tortured into torturing the OK government into reversing this law.

    Sooner or later people will understand that this is not about which side has “the better argument”. It is about which side can apply more torture, apply it better, and apply it longer to the other side in order to torture the other side into compliance with the better torturers’ will. Can OK terrorise would-be protesters and activists and pollution-watchers more than pro-freedomists can torture OK and the gas and oil bussiness into reversing this law? If OK can apply more terror and torture against the pro-freedom community than the pro-freedom community can apply economic torture against OK, then OK will win and spread these laws to other states.

    Meanwhile, people should prepare to reject fundraising appeals to help the “victims” of deep well injection earthquakes, petro-pollution water destruction, etc. in Oklahoma. It is time for the voting majority of Oklahoma to live out the full meaning of what that voting majority has voted for. This also means zero donations for any “disaster relief” for the future victims of the F6 and F7 tornados of the global warming future. This is what they vote for when they vote for state terrorist oppression-law government, for Senators like Inhofe, etc.

    1. MoiAussie

      they should have as many camera cellphones as possible all recording everything and sending it in realtime to remote unerasable storage places

      Nah, won’t work. They’ll just roll in the Stingrays, your recordings will go nowhere, and they’ll capture all the phone details and track those phones’ movements from then onwards (unless you use burners and dispose of them). You’d probably be better off using the phones in cell-disabled mode, then whipping out their memory cards and whisking them to safety via drone, or running a local WiFi hotspot for access to your recording server and getting the recordings out surreptitiously. Maybe by swallowing microSD cards in a capsule…

      1. different clue

        I leave it to people with techno knowledge to say whether you are correct or not. I don’t know enough to know. One way or another, recording everything and getting it out should be tried.

        1. hunkerdown

          Recording is easy. Distribution is harder. The Serval Network was designed by disaster relief organizations (and the extractive industries creating opportunities for environmental catastrophe is exactly that, imho) to enable information exchange and distribution via mesh network using low-end devices with Wi-Fi. Slightly harder to suppress than celular data, especially if local sympathizers run uplinks on their routers or other equipment. It’s the sort of thing that, again imho, everyone probably should have on their devices before it’s needed.

          1. different clue

            Knowledge of this information and application of this knowledge should be a priority-planned-for part of any and every protest or demonstration or bearing-of-witness going forward.

  12. Chauncey Gardiner

    I agree with a law that seeks to protect both existing public and privately owned infrastructure from physical damage that could have a detrimental effect on public health or safety. Much of the content of this statute is in the public interest IMO.

    However, under its Sections 1.A. and 1.D.(2 ), this state law makes protests by the public that seek to prevent construction of oil and gas pipelines a violation of state criminal law, as well as enabling the state to punish those who support such protests by providing food and lodging to protestors or other peaceful acts of support, such as posting bond for protestors. In doing so, it violates the Constitutional rights of the American people to freedom of assembly, freedom of speech and due process IMO, among other legal rights. The point in Jerri-Lynn’s post that this law will likely have a chilling effect on peaceful dissent is well taken.

    As I read it, this state law provides that the state’s grant of economic powers to wealthy individuals, consortiums and corporations to build a pipeline trumps citizens’ rights to freedom of assembly and speech under the First Amendment, as well as citizens’ legitimate concerns about protecting the public’s right to clean water, clean air, and use of public lands through such assembly. While I expect this law will ultimately not withstand court challenge, it will likely have a chilling effect on peaceful dissent in the interim, which I suspect is the immediate objective of its sponsors.

    WHAT exactly is the “emergency” cited in the statute under which the state is claiming authority to act?

  13. Edward

    The Republicans are not shy about taking provocative measures such as Trumpcare, stealing a supreme court seat, the Flint water crisis, and this. The U.S. has a history of violent response to protests. I am not sure how this law fits into that history.

  14. Benjamin Fitzkee

    Thank you for this post. I have been following this disturbing trend since the WaPo article was published in February, and at the time I couldn’t believe that my home state of Pennsylvania hadn’t passed a similar measure. Well, for once, my state senator, Senator Scott Martin R-13, didn’t disappoint me – he announced on May 5th that he plans to introduce “Legislation to Shield Taxpayers from Protest Costs.” The memo he released states, “In addition to remedies currently allowed by law, this legislation would allow for the recovery of costs by holding a person or persons civilly liable for response costs related to a demonstration if the person is convicted for rioting or is a public nuisance under 18 Pa.C.S. § 5501 or §6504, or if the person is involved in hosting the demonstration.”

    He announced this legislation the day after he hosted a teleconference that brought together our local police, emergency responders and about a dozen of their counterparts from North Dakota. The purpose of this meeting was, according to Senator Martin, “to discuss a proactive approach to this issue so any potential protests can take place in a way that will not impact the public safety or the financial health of local communities.” And to “ensure Lancaster County is prepared to handle expected protests for the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline”, Martin said as LancasterOnline reports.

    Why this horrible proposal, and why from a state Senator from Amish country you may be asking yourself? I have two three word answers; Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline, and Lancaster Against Pipelines. The former is a 42 inch pipeline proposed by Williams Partners to cut through 37 miles of Lancaster county Pennsylvania, and additional 150 miles through other PA counties. The latter is a group, of which I am a member, that was formed by local residents in opposition to this project. We have been organizing for over three years, and we have now collected pledges from nearly 1,000 persons pledging to use non-violent direct actions to stop this project. Of the nearly 1,000 pledges over 400 persons have attended direct action training, field medic training, and know your rights legal training. Senator Scott Martin, and his corporate masters know we mean business and this is their first offensive move in a battle that will continue to play out over the next 12+ months.

    1. different clue

      Would some of this pipeline go through / under Amish farms? How would the Amish respond to that?

      Also, who would end up using the oil to come through this pipeline? Probably more people than are affected by the pipeline itself. How many of the prospective customers for products from that oil are prepared to strangle down their own petro-lifestyles to torture the companies expecting that oil into dropping support for the pipeline in order to “make the pain stop”? The miniscule-by-comparison number of people who actually live in Lancaster County can’t be expected to stop a pipeline all by themselves.

      1. Benjamin Fitzkee

        Yes, the Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline (ASP) does affect members of the Amish community directly. It passes through some Amish farms, and near some Amish farms. When I say near, I mean within the 1/4 blast/hazard zone. We have an encampment established on a farm that is operated, but not owned, by an Amish family. This particular property is where Williams plans to perform a nearly 1 mile horizontal directional drilling operation. The pipeline will run almost directly under the Amish families’ home.

        Lancaster county has 425,000 acres of farm land, and over 100,000 acres are under some form of farm land preservation program. Last year, Karen Martynick, executive director of Lancaster Farmland Trust, warned that there was “a big target right across preserved farmland in Lancaster County.” Why? Preserved farms have a lower market value because they have fewer potential uses. They’re preserved! Or they’re supposed to be, until a pipeline company wants to come through. When they do they don’t have to offer the property owner as much through the eminent domain process because the assessed value is lower due to the fact that it’s preserved. This prospect jeopardizes the hard work done by many private and public agencies to preserve our precious farm land.The Amish are a target as well because they are less inclined to litigate.

        The pipeline itself would carry natural gas, not oil, fracked from the Marcellus formation in northeastern PA. Susquehanna county to be exact. The ASP is meant to connect that area with the TRANSCO line, which already runs through PA, north into NY and south all the way to the gulf of Mexico. This project will also connect to an LNG export terminal in Cove Point, Maryland. Much of this gas is expected to be sent overseas so that producers can realize greater profits.

        I’m not sure what it will take to stop the ASP, but we’re doing all that we can. Over 530,000 people live in Lancaster county, if we can motivate 1% of them to take action we’ll have 5,000 people raising hell for a pipeline company in the middle of Trump territory. We’re at 1,000 now, so we’ve got a good start.

        My son is almost 5, and my daughter is 7 months; when they’re grown I want to be able to look them in the eye and tell them I did what could to stop this fossil fuel madness. Hopefully they’ll forgive us for waiting too long, for making tactical or strategic mistakes – but they won’t have to ask why I sat around and did nothing while the world burned.

        1. different clue

          I hope you-all can make it work. Does a lot of the food grown on preserved farmland in Lancaster County go to feed people in Greater Philadelphia? Is it part of Greater Philadelphia’s foodshed, in other words? And is it the kind of shinola food which sells for a shinola price to the sort of well-off and well-connected Philadelphians who can afford to pay that shinola price?

          If so, and if these shinola-food Philadelphians were told that the source of THEIR food is being threatened, might politically significant numbers of them decide it is in their own lifestyle-maintainance interest to get involved in your anti-pipeline movement? Would it be worth the time and effort it would take to try reaching and recruiting such “shinola-food lifestyle” Philadelphians to the cause?

          Does the non-violent peacefullness-orientation of the Amish also make them averse to very politely joining very polite public demonstrations? Certainly concerned Amish bearing concerned witness against the pipeline could be very telegenic for local newshows and newspapers. Is that a thought worth following up?

          1. a different chris

            >Does the non-violent peacefullness-orientation of the Amish also make them averse

            Boy you don’t know the Amish. Like most super-religious people, they* consider the earth something to use for their personal betterment, and if you pray enough God will fix everything. They aren’t adverse to pipelines or anything like them if it puts money in their pocket without having to avert their eyes from heaven.

            *well, most of their leaders… like us “English”, they have a near-powerless Left too.

          2. Benjamin Fitzkee

            The majority of the acreage in the county is devoted to the production of agricultural inputs, corn for animals, soybeans, or tobacco grown by the Amish, not ready to eat produce.

            The Amish family that lives on the property we are using for our encampment, events, trainings, etc. has been involved with our organization. They attended our dedication event, and one of the young sons even participated in a drum ceremony with some members of the local Circle Legacy group (Native American organization); they have helped with manual labor around camp; they were also at our Easter Sunrise service. We are actively working to build this relationship with them and their community. We would be honored if they would stand with us when construction starts and things get “interesting”.

        2. different clue

          Also, I wonder, how much NatGas does Greater Philadelphia use? And how much NatGas is supposed to move through that pipeline if it is built? If the total gas consumption of Philadelphia is way bigger than the gas that pipeline could carry, one wonders if enough Philadelphians could reduce their NatGas use enough to reduce it by the amount which would have flowed through that pipeline. If they could, then such a food-and-water-survival-motivated voluntary use reduction could make a visible political point, and that reduction could be used as a tire iron to beat the pipeline company about the eyes and teeth with.

          Perhaps that point could be raised with the people of Greater Philadelphia.

          1. different clue

            Looks like the Amish won’t figure into anything, then. All the other things can still be tried, though.

            If the Left is powerless, don’t bother with it. Or at least don’t limit oneself to membership-identity with it. All kinds of non-left people must be disturbed about this pipeline threat.

            1. Benjamin Fitzkee

              We don’t identify with any political parties, or left/right paradigms. We are for clean air, clean water, and respect for the land. We also support the right for communities to make decisions about what takes place within their own communities, and we reject the doctrine of state and federal preemption when applied to communities using laws and ordinances to regulate industries like the oil and gas industry.

              Bottom line, we will work with anyone who is supportive of our goals and shares our values.

        3. stillfeelintheberninwi

          Thanks so very much for your efforts and for posting. website http://www.wearelancastercounty.org/

          Latest news: May 2, From Lancaster Online, by Michelle Johnson: “Senator hosts event as proactive approach to Conestoga Township pipeline protest”: “Senator Scott Martin will host a presentation May 4 for local officials and law enforcement personnel to discuss preparations for potential protests regarding the Atlantic Sunrise pipeline in Conestoga Township.”

  15. witters

    It has been said that there are those who “hate us for our freedoms”. That is why the object of their hatred must be, and is being, reduced. Soon they will have nothing to hate.

  16. Normal

    How would this affect pipeline protests, as the pipeline hasn’t been built and commissioned yet, and can’t be a “critical infrastructure”?

    1. different clue

      Well . . . that would be a very interesting question for The Defense to bring up in court when The Prosecution tries to fake its case. Which it will try . . . because that’s what these laws are for.

      1. different clue

        ” Your Honor, this pipeline is Critical Vaporstructure. And these protesters are casting Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt upon the future Present Existence of this Critical Vaporstructure.”

  17. mad as hell

    Land of the free and home of the brave.
    We need more canon fodder for Afghanistan.
    So they can protect our liberty at home!
    It’s only been 15 years. 85 more for a hundred years war.
    Unf$$$$$g Believable!.

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