Republican state senator proposes creating new crime of 'economic terrorism' aimed at protesters

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OLYMPIA, Wash. (KCPQ) — State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, said Wednesday he is preparing a bill that would create a new crime of "economic terrorism" that would allow felony prosecution of protesters who block streets, cause property damage, threaten jobs and put public safety at risk.

"I respect the right to protest, but when it endangers people's lives and property, it goes too far," Ericksen said in a news release. "Fear, intimidation and vandalism are not a legitimate form of political expression. Those who employ it must be called to account."

Ericksen said the bill, which is being prepared for next year's legislative session, would allow felony prosecution "of those who intentionally break the law in an attempt to intimidate or coerce private citizens or the government by obstructing economic activity."

He didn't indicate who would determine when protesters become economic terrorists.

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Anti-Trump protests in New York City
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Anti-Trump protests in New York City
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people march towards Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - NOVEMBER 12 : Thousands of people gather outside Trump Tower during a protest against US President-elect Donald Trump in New York, United States on November 12, 2016. (Photo by Volkan Furuncu/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
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Ericksen said the penalties would also apply "to those who fund, organize, sponsor or otherwise encourage others to commit acts of economic terrorism. Accomplices may be required to pay restitution up to triple the amount of economic damage."

"We are not just going after the people who commit these acts of terrorism," Ericksen said. "We are going after the people who fund them. Wealthy donors should not feel safe in disrupting middle class jobs."

His measure would not apply in cases of lawful and protected activities, such as strikes and picketing, he said.

Doug Honig, of the ACLU of Washington, said in reaction: "The statement throws out a lot of broad rhetoric, and we'll need to see an actual bill. But we're already concerned that some of its loose terms appear to be targeting civil disobedience as 'terrorism.' That's the kind of excessive approach to peaceful protest that our country and state do not need.

"Let's keep in mind that civil rights protesters who sat down at lunch counters could be seen as 'disrupting business' and 'obstructing economic activity,' and their courageous actions were opposed by segregationists as trying to 'coerce business and government.'"

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Signs from anti-Trump protests across the country
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Signs from anti-Trump protests across the country

A woman takes part during a protest against President-elect Donald Trump in New York City on November 9, 2016.

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(Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

People protest outside Trump Tower following President-elect Donald Trump's election victory in Manhattan, New York, U.S., November 9, 2016.

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Protesters hold signs during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle.

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Protesters reach Trump Tower as they march against Republican president-elect president Donald Trump in the neighborhood of Manhattan in New York, U.S., November 09, 2016.

(REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz)

Protestors march against Republican Donald Trump's victory in Tuesday's U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mark Makela)

People stage a protest against President-elect Donald Trump of Republican Party in front of the Trump Tower in Chicago, United States on November 9, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

A sign reading "Grab Her By The What Mr. President" lies on the ground as people gather to protest the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States outside of City Hall in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon)

Protesters walk during a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kamil Krzacznski/TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY)

A protester holds a sign during a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump outside Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kamil Krzacznski)

Protesters hold signs in opposition to the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mary Schwalm)

Cristina Levert, who attended Berkeley High and who has a 17 year-old who attends Berkeley High, holds up a sign during a protest in response to the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States in Berkeley, California, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Elijah Nouvelage)

A protester holds a sign during a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump outside Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kamil Krzacznski)

A protester holds sign that reads "Not My President" during a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle.

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Felomina Cervantes, of Seattle, holds a sign that reads "Shame on You America" as she takes part in a protest against President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in Seattle's Capitol Hill neighborhood.

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

A protester holds a sign that reads "Dump Trump" as she takes part in a protest against the election of President-elect Donald Trump, Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016, in downtown Seattle.

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

People stage a protest against President-elect Donald Trump of Republican Party in front of the Trump Tower in Chicago, United States on November 9, 2016.

(Photo by Bilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Protestors shout slogans during a demonstratioin on 5th Avenue across from Trump Tower on November 9, 2016 in New York, after Donald Trump was elected as the next president of the US.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Hundreds protest in opposition of Donald Trump's presidential election victory on Boston Common in Boston, Wednesday evening, Nov. 9, 2016.

(AP Photo/Charles Krupa)

A protester holds a sign during a protest against Republican president-elect Donald Trump outside Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago, Illinois, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kamil Krzacznski)

Protesters demonstrate across the street from Trump Tower after the election selected Republican president-elect Donald Trump in New York, New York, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Carlo Allegri)

Demonstrators protest against the election of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump in front of the White House in Washington November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

A woman holds a placard at an anti-racism protest against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump outside of the U.S. Embassy in London, Britain, November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Hannah McKay)

People gather to protest the election of Republican Donald Trump as the president of the United States outside of City Hall in Los Angeles, California, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Patrick T. Fallon)

Protestors march against Republican Donald Trump's victory in Tuesday's U.S. presidential election in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Mark Makela)

Demonstrators gather before start of rally against Donald Trump as President at the Parkman Bandstand on Boston Common in Boston on Nov. 9, 2016.

(Photo by John Blanding/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Demonstrators hold signs during a rally against U.S. President-elect Donald Trump near Trump Tower in New York, U.S., on Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2016. Thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in Manhattan on Wednesday night and converged on Trump Tower in Midtown to protest the election of Donald J. Trump as president.  

(Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

A protestor holds a placard on 5th Avenue across the street from Trump Tower on November 9, 2016, after Donald Trump won the election.

(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

A demonstrator holds a sign and protests against Donald Trump's presidency at Washington Square Park on November 9, 2016 in New York City.

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A demonstrator carries a placard in protest against the election of Republican Donald Trump as President of the United States, across from the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. November 9, 2016.

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Members of the global civic movement Avaaz gather outside the White House on election night to protest against bigotry, Tuesday Nov. 8, 2016 in Washington, DC.

(Molly Riley/AP Images for AVAAZ)

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