The Right to Dissent

The right to dissent and protest is constitutionally protected and has been a hallmark of our democracy since the founding of this nation. Yet today, our First Amendment freedoms are at serious risk as legislatures across the country—backed by the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and fossil fuel companies—seek to stifle dissent and criminalize the right to protest.

Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities have shown what people power looks like at Standing Rock, Ferguson, and beyond. Record numbers of people voted during the last election to make their voices heard. 

Yet extremist lawmakers and the corporations that sponsor them are using tactics to squash protests in hopes to divide and distract us while they block popular legislation including democracy reform and policies that will help our planet thrive. They have seen what we are capable of when we come together and want to stop us at all costs so that they can hold on to their power and their dying toxic industries.

Across the U.S., people like you and me are being punished simply for speaking out for what they believe in. These attacks, coming from the fossil fuel industry, secretive lobbying groups like ALEC, and others like police unions, are heightening the crisis we see in our democracy by putting our ability to peacefully protest at risk.

We are seeing an alarming rise in legislation that drastically represses peaceful protest. These attacks include anti-protest bills—many modeled after bills drafted by ALEC—that increase criminal penalties for protest at fossil fuel facilities which have a disparate impact on marginalized communities, climate activities, and defenders.

We only have about a decade to reverse the course on the climate crisis. Activism supporting climate justice and people power is needed more than ever. 

The very kinds of activism that brought progress in the environment, civil rights, voting rights, and workers’ rights are now at risk at the hands of corporate polluters and the elected officials they influence. By continuing to expose the fossil fuel industry and secretive lobbying entities like ALEC, we address this critical threat to our ability to protect our planet through peaceful protest.

Energy Transfer Partners President and CEO Kelcy Warren speaks at an industry conference in Houston to discuss the strong opposition that his pipelines have faced across the United States.