Our Voices Together

Right now, our right to free speech in Ohio is under attack with multiple bills at the Statehouse!  SB 33 that penalizes and criminalizes many forms of peaceful protest at oil and gas infrastructure sites was signed into law January 2021 and are now in effect.

Following the passage of SB 33, 4 more anti-protest, anti-democracy bills have been introduced into the Ohio Legislature and are under discussion.  These new bills (HB 22,  HB 109, SB 16, SB 41) are vague and broad in their definitions of prohibited action. At the same time, the language in the bills is so vague, confusing and complex that those of us who participate in ANY kind of peaceful public protest ANYWHERE for ANY reason, risk being charged with felonies, incarcerated and paying heavy fines for something as simple as blocking a street or throwing confetti or distracting a police officer. Some of these bills even include huge penalties for non-profits such as UUJO or your own congregation for advertising or organizing such events. These penalties would bankrupt most non-profits.

Individually, these bills are problematic. Taken together, they are designed to impede and ‘chill’ all forms of public protest in Ohio. It’s time for us to raise #OurVoicesTogether and stop these dangerous bills from being enacted. It’s time to contact our Ohio Senators and Representatives and the Committees in the House and Senate considering these bills.

And may we remember the words of Rep John Lewis:  “When you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, you have to speak up. You have to say something; you have to do something.”

Rev. Joan Van Becelaere | Executive Director
Unitarian Universalist Justice Ohio

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