Taking Protest to the Streets, and the Mayor’s Front Door

Taking Protest to the Streets, and the Mayor’s Front Door

The issue has come up often enough that Virginia has a law that prohibits picketing at the residence of an individual or assembling “in a manner which disrupts or threatens to disrupt any individual’s right to tranquillity in his home.” The law, which defines such activity as a misdemeanor, recently surfaced for discussion after racial justice protests at the home of the city manager and mayor in Fredericksburg, Va.

People have sometimes doxxed police officers, council members and public health officials, posting the officials’ home addresses, personal cellphone numbers and the names of family members on the internet. After federal agents were sent to Portland, Ore., to crack down on protesters there, personal information about dozens of the officers was posted online, according to the Federal Protective Service.

Kat DeBurgh, executive director of the Health Officers Association of California, said the protests over coronavirus policies that have targeted public health officials at their homes could have the effect of driving away people who are committed to combating the virus at a time when they are needed most.

“It’s one thing to be against a policy, but I hope we can all agree that the health officers are not the enemy,” Ms. DeBurgh said.

In Meridian, Idaho, where protesters targeted the police officer who arrested the woman at the playground, Tracy Basterrechea, the deputy police chief, said such targeting is outside the bounds of legitimate protest.

“You can do it, but you shouldn’t,” he said. “It goes beyond the idea of peaceful protesting and into the realm of intimidating or bullying public officials.”

Two women were arrested after a protest in May at a Florida home belonging to Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death. The police said the women tossed paint onto the officer’s front door. Six other people were arrested during another protest outside Mr. Chauvin’s home in Minnesota. “A murderer lives here,” a protester had painted on the street.

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