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A police officer clears protesters off the sidewalk in front of the White House during a demonstration against the Dakota Access Pipeline on March 10, 2017. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images News

By Joshua Axelrod

A new South Dakota law — written in consultation with the company that owns Keystone XL — could punish people for exercising their right to peaceful protest. Is it a harbinger of things to come?

America was born out of protest. Revolution and rebellion, bred in part by crackdowns on protests, affirmed that a protected right "peaceably to assemble" in support — or protest — of ideas affecting Americans' lives was crucial to our fledgling democracy's survival. And so, the very first amendment added to the newly ratified U.S. Constitution enshrined public protest as a right.

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Standing Rock Supporters at the City Center Plaza of San Francisco in 2016. The protest was one of many in a global day of action against the Dakota Access Pipeline calling on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to cancel the permit for the project. Protests like these, which are vital to ensuring a future we can live in are at stake with these threatening legislative trends. Michael Short / Greenpeace

By Maggie Ellinger-Locke

We only have about a decade to reverse course on the climate crisis. Activism opposing fossil fuel pipelines is needed more than ever. But activists are facing threats to their right to protest in state legislatures across the country. Lawmakers are introducing legislation to restrict the right to protest. These bills are often modeled on resolutions drafted by companies and passed through groups like the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), the secretive group of corporate lobbyists trying to rewrite state laws to benefit corporations over people, and are usually supported by law enforcement groups. Advocates are fighting back, urging elected officials to vote against these bills. But even the mere introduction of these bills has the power to chill speech and curtail activism.

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If you have to pay for free speech then it isn't free. Tim Aubry / Greenpeace

By Lauren Reid

A new proposed rule from the National Park Service is aiming to restrict peaceful protest in parks and even sidewalks within the District of Columbia—just one effort on a long list of anti-protest laws popping up all around the country.

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