Right to Protest

Piper Fund – Right to Protest - Proteus Fund

The Piper Fund and its affiliate, the Piper Action Fund, are responding, through a pooled rapid response fund that is protecting the Right to Protest.

Peaceful protest is a hallmark of our democracy—that no matter our race, religion, gender, age, socioeconomic status or political affiliation, we have the right to give public voice to our concerns, to oppose our government’s actions, and support the ideals that are close to our hearts.

Yet today, freedom of assembly is at serious risk, as state legislatures across the country seek to take away this fundamental right and silence the voices of the people.

Since 2017, over 106 bills have been introduced in 36 states to disincentivize protest, with policies ranging from dramatically increased civil fines for protestors and increased criminal penalties for specific forms of protest, and even for organizations and individuals supporting protest.

These bills have disproportionately targeted communities of color and other marginalized communities. For example, bills raising criminal penalties for protesting on highways have targeted the Movement for Black Lives; bills preventing protest at “critical infrastructure” sites have targeted pipeline protestors, including Native American communities; and so-called “Campus Free Speech Bills” have targeted student movements against white supremacy. Already, bills have passed in several states.

In response, in late 2017, the Piper Fund and Piper Action Fund established a rapid response fund to support the right to protest. In a moment in which disenfranchised communities are relying upon protest as a critical form of resistance to oppressive government policies, maintaining this right is critical. If not stopped, these bills will hinder any and all groups seeking to demand racial justice, women’s rights, health care, economic justice—indeed across the spectrum of communities’ concerns.

Already, Piper’s rapid response fund has supported critical work to protect the right to protest, including:

  • Grants to organizations in at least 14 different states and Washington DC to conduct public education, engage their communities, and advocate for freedom of assembly;
  • Hands-on support to organizations in those states and beyond, to help advocates develop messaging and learn from one another as to best practices to engage their communities;
  • Messaging research to help advocates hone their communications strategies, as well as organizing a webinar series for public education about this issue;
  • The development of a national network, Protect Dissent, that provides support to state groups and works collaboratively to protect this fundamental Constitutional right.
Melissa Spatz

Melissa Spatz

Program Director, Piper Fund

For more information on the Protecting the Right to Protest initiative, please contact:

Julia Reticker-Flynn

Julia Reticker-Flynn

Program Officer, Protecting the Right to Protest

Julia oversees the grantmaking support at the Protecting the Right to Protest initiative at the Piper Fund. She supports state groups defending protest rights and coordinates the Protect Dissent Network, a coalition of 20 national organizations united in defense of freedom of assembly. Prior to joining the Proteus Fund, Julia served as the director of You...

Julia oversees the grantmaking support at the Protecting the Right to Protest initiative at the Piper Fund. She supports state groups defending protest rights and coordinates the Protect Dissent Network, a coalition of 20 national organizations united in defense of freedom of assembly. Prior to joining the Proteus Fund, Julia served as the director of Youth Organizing & Mobilization at Advocates for Youth for nearly a decade where she oversaw a team of talented organizers, visionaries, and activists boldly championing young people’s sexual health and rights. She is deeply invested in driving campaigns that employ culture shift, policy advocacy, and grassroots mobilization to create change at a local, state, and national level. During her time at Advocates she trained over eight thousand young people on grassroots organizing skills, mobilized tens of thousands to take action on federal policy initiatives to protect young people’s sexual health and rights, and launched the groundbreaking 1 in 3 campaign to destigmatize abortion and promote access to abortion services. Julia served on the Board of Directors of Nursing Students for Choice for five years. She earned a Masters in public administration from George Washington’s Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Administration and a Bachelor of Science in foreign service from Georgetown University.

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