Protesters Charged With Terrorism?

Photo by Sophie Popplewell on Unsplash

( – Stacey Pheffer Amato, a New York Assemblywoman introduced a new bill that could lead to felony charges against demonstrators who block New York roadways, by considering it an “act of domestic terrorism.” 

Pheffer Amato (D) introduced the measure following months of pro-Palestinian protests following the start of the conflict in October 2023. The protests have resulted in disruption in New York City streets with hundreds of demonstrators having been arrested for disrupting rush-hour traffic in busy roadways, including the Manhattan, Williamsburg, and Brooklyn bridges. There have also been several incidents between the protesters and the New York City police. 

If the bill is successful it would result in a change in state law and would make such incidents a “domestic act of terrorism.” Under this bill, these protests would become a class D felony. The measure is co-sponsored by fellow Democrat Assemblyman Sam Berger. Both Pheffer Amato and Berger are from Queens. 

Pheffer Amato wrote a statement defending the bill pointing out that while the United States Constitution protected the right to free protest, it did not provide protesters with the right to cause fear or endanger the lives of other people. She added that when the actions taken by the demonstrators resulted in the ability of motorists and pedestrians to move around, seek aid, or reach a location being impeded then it was “unacceptable.” As she pointed out, blocking roads could lead to someone being unable to get the medical attention they needed and could prevent people from moving freely which is “dangerous.” 

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