CLAIM: The editorial board at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch claims that legislation before the Missouri General Assembly designed to discourage violent and destructive behavior by protesters at pipelines and pipeline construction sites instead “aims to silence environmentalists.”
The text of the bill – Senate Bill 293 – makes clear that the legislation poses no threat to the First Amendment rights of environmentalists to gather peacefully and share their concerns about pipeline projects.
Instead, the legislation states:
A person commits the offense of trespass on a critical infrastructure facility if he or she unlawfully trespasses or enters property containing a critical infrastructure facility without permission. The offense of trespass on a critical infrastructure facility is a Class B misdemeanor. If it is determined that the intent of the trespasser is to damage, destroy, vandalize, deface, tamper with equipment, or impede or inhibit operations of the facility, the person shall be guilty of a Class A misdemeanor.
A person commits the offense of damage of a critical infrastructure facility if he or she damages, destroys, vandalizes, defaces, or tampers with equipment in a critical infrastructure facility. The offense of damage of a critical infrastructure facility is a Class C felony.
If an organization is found to be a conspirator with persons who have committed any of the offenses set forth in the act, the organization shall be punished by a fine that is ten times the amount of the fine attached to the offense.
Contrary to claims by the Post-Dispatch, the legislation is directly aimed at reducing violent behavior and activities at pipelines, threatening the safety of workers and vital economic development projects for Missouri and the nation as a whole.