PIPER FUND: 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.

And the Piper Fund is responding, through a pooled rapid response fund that is protecting the Right to Protest.

Since 2017, over 60 bills have been introduced in 31 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 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 Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin 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 that provides support to state groups and works collaboratively to protect this fundamental Constitutional right.

Resources

In order to ensure that state advocates have the support they need, Piper partnered with a set of national organizations in 2018 to establish the Protect Dissent Network. This growing network of state and national partners is a learning space for understanding assaults on the right to protest and how best to respond, and an outlet for coordinated, strategic action to support the right to protest. Please find below a set of resources on this issue from our network partners:

Proposed National Park Service Regulations Would Drastically Curtail Freedom of Assembly in DC

Proposed National Park Service Regulations Would Drastically Curtail Freedom of Assembly in DC

Newly proposed National Park Service regulations governing protest on federal lands in Washington DC would drastically curtail freedom of assembly in the nation’s capital. From closing down protest in front of the White House, to charging exorbitant amounts for permits, to making the process to obtain permits significantly longer and more difficult, this ...

Newly proposed National Park Service regulations governing protest on federal lands in Washington DC would drastically curtail freedom of assembly in the nation’s capital. From closing down protest in front of the White House, to charging exorbitant amounts for permits, to making the process to obtain permits significantly longer and more difficult, this new proposed regulatory plan has the potential to silence the voices of grantees of all of our foundations, no matter what issue we address. Over 140 philanthropic institutions and individual funders submitted the letter below to the National Park Service, urging the administration to not adopt these changes.

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How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters

How Energy Companies and Allies Are Turning the Law Against Protesters

In at least 31 states, lawmakers and governors have introduced bills and orders since Standing Rock that target protests, particularly opposition to pipelines. Across the country, activists are feeling increasingly under assault as energy companies and their allies in government have tried to turn the law—and law enforcement—against them. Source: Inside C...

In at least 31 states, lawmakers and governors have introduced bills and orders since Standing Rock that target protests, particularly opposition to pipelines. Across the country, activists are feeling increasingly under assault as energy companies and their allies in government have tried to turn the law—and law enforcement—against them. Source: Inside Climate News

Read more
Campus Free-Speech Legislation: History, Progress, and Problems

Campus Free-Speech Legislation: History, Progress, and Problems

Claiming that free speech is “dying” on American campuses, a conservative think tank has led an effort to push states to adopt a model bill that, in the name of defending campus free speech, risks undermining it. This report seeks to understand the context and content of the “campus free-speech” movement, to track its influence within state legislatures, ...

Claiming that free speech is “dying” on American campuses, a conservative think tank has led an effort to push states to adopt a model bill that, in the name of defending campus free speech, risks undermining it. This report seeks to understand the context and content of the “campus free-speech” movement, to track its influence within state legislatures, and to draw some conclusions concerning the best ways to respond to it. Source: American Association of University Professors

Read more

Benefits of Joining the Piper Fund

When funders pool resources and draw on collective ideas and energy, we have maximized investments and achieve a broader impact towards strategic change. For this reason, we integrate a collaborative approach in our major initiative work. By joining Piper, you will benefit from:

Piper’s collaborative grantmaking can amplify your impact by supporting collective actions across the country, where it’s needed most. Especially now, when reform is most attainable at state and local levels and when attacks against democratic norms and institutions are escalating, Piper brings extensive firsthand knowledge of key states. Our staff currently monitor more than 30 states, regularly engage advocates and policy influencers, and conduct site visits to identify opportunities, monitor threats to our democratic institutions, evaluate reform efforts, and actively learn from both wins and temporary setbacks. Our relationships allow us to reach out to the field, proactively prepare for possible scenarios, and develop a comprehensive approach.

Piper’s leadership goes beyond grantmaking. We use a broad-based approach towards cohesive, lasting reform that includes: field-building, communications development, trainings and leadership development, rapid response strategies, expedient research, as well as lobbying investments through our (c)(4) affiliate Piper Action Fund. Piper’s vision of building an impactful, intersectional democracy movement has led us to invest in the organizational infrastructure of community organizations, with positive, tangible results. We regularly convene grantees and other key stakeholders in the field for collaborative planning and learning, an approach that helps inform the broader grantmaking portfolios of our donor partners.

Piper’s collaborative approach can help you maximize your investment with an efficient grantmaking process. Our nimble structure allows us to rapidly mobilize funds to capitalize on opportunities and contend with challenges as they arise, even moving needed funds to grantees within days. This approach allows funders to leverage resources in a cost-effective way, create breakthrough reform, and protect democratic institutions. In recent years, Piper has shifted its grantmaking to focus on groups led by the New American Majority. By building sustained power for historically disenfranchised communities, we have increased participation in the democratic process and strengthened efforts to defend our democracy.

Piper is a learning community in which funders share knowledge, expertise, and have strategic conversations about how to best strengthen our democracy. At our semiannual meetings and regular funder briefings, you can hear from the most innovative and impactful leaders in the field, to inform both immediate and long-term grantmaking strategies. Our extended network gives you early access to emerging threats to democracy and reform efforts, as well as innovative approaches to grantmaking within the wider philanthropic community, to build a flexible and adaptable roadmap for success.

  • Proven expertise within states

    Piper’s collaborative grantmaking can amplify your impact by supporting collective actions across the country, where it’s needed most. Especially now, when reform is most attainable at state and local levels and when attacks against democratic norms and institutions are escalating, Piper brings extensive firsthand knowledge of key states. Our staff currently monitor more than 30 states, regularly engage advocates and policy influencers, and conduct site visits to identify opportunities, monitor threats to our democratic institutions, evaluate reform efforts, and actively learn from both wins and temporary setbacks. Our relationships allow us to reach out to the field, proactively prepare for possible scenarios, and develop a comprehensive approach.

  • Expertise in field-building

    Piper’s leadership goes beyond grantmaking. We use a broad-based approach towards cohesive, lasting reform that includes: field-building, communications development, trainings and leadership development, rapid response strategies, expedient research, as well as lobbying investments through our (c)(4) affiliate Piper Action Fund. Piper’s vision of building an impactful, intersectional democracy movement has led us to invest in the organizational infrastructure of community organizations, with positive, tangible results. We regularly convene grantees and other key stakeholders in the field for collaborative planning and learning, an approach that helps inform the broader grantmaking portfolios of our donor partners.

  • Innovative and collaborative grantmaking

    Piper’s collaborative approach can help you maximize your investment with an efficient grantmaking process. Our nimble structure allows us to rapidly mobilize funds to capitalize on opportunities and contend with challenges as they arise, even moving needed funds to grantees within days. This approach allows funders to leverage resources in a cost-effective way, create breakthrough reform, and protect democratic institutions. In recent years, Piper has shifted its grantmaking to focus on groups led by the New American Majority. By building sustained power for historically disenfranchised communities, we have increased participation in the democratic process and strengthened efforts to defend our democracy.

  • Access to a community of funders

    Piper is a learning community in which funders share knowledge, expertise, and have strategic conversations about how to best strengthen our democracy. At our semiannual meetings and regular funder briefings, you can hear from the most innovative and impactful leaders in the field, to inform both immediate and long-term grantmaking strategies. Our extended network gives you early access to emerging threats to democracy and reform efforts, as well as innovative approaches to grantmaking within the wider philanthropic community, to build a flexible and adaptable roadmap for success.

Melissa Spatz

Melissa Spatz

Program Director, Piper Fund

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