News Release

“Critical Infrastructure” Laws vs. Protests for Environmental Justice and Police Accountability


A new investigation by Bolts magazine found that the arrests of environmental justice and police accountability activists have been tied to “critical infrastructure” laws, which make nonviolent protest near oil, gas, electrical and other forms of infrastructure a felony and ratchet up the punishment associated with the actions. 

PIPER FRENCH;, @PiperSFrench
    French is a staff writer at Bolts, where she reports on California politics, state violence, and the criminal legal system. 

French writes that critical infrastructure laws have “proliferated across the country in the last five years and are now on the books in 19 states due to the efforts of the conservative legislators’ organization known as the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the meticulous lobbying of powerful oil and gas companies.”

Recent arrests in Louisiana and in Cop City in Georgia––where activists were protesting the installation of a training center in the Atlanta forest––are some of the first to use critical infrastructure laws against protesters. “Thus far,” French said, “no one’s ever been convicted––but the protesters who’ve been targeted have suffered the consequences nonetheless.”

French told the Institute for Public Accuracy: “The charges against the Cop City protesters illustrate how critical infrastructure laws and other anti-protest legislation can be wielded against both the movement for police accountability and the fight for environmental justice. The goal is not necessarily to win in court but to levy charges of such extreme consequence that it effectively quells dissent.”