The price of protest

Keywords: critical infrastructure, fines, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, security, neoliberalism, legal personality


Many liberal democracies are presently dismantling the foundations of deep democracy through the construction of a juridified security framework. The expansion of security exceptions that privilege private property interests of a small elite above the human rights that promote democratic accountability such as the freedom of assembly and the freedom of expression has accelerated this anti-democratic tilt. The legislative designation of «critical infrastructure» insulates certain sectors of the economy from protests. Security exceptions that safeguard the normal functioning of the economy effectively insulate the fossil fuel sector from democratic political pressure due to status quo dependency. Fossil fuels are targeted by protester and designated as critical infrastructure precisely because economies are dependent on them. The use of extreme fines to incapacitate disobedient citizens as risk mitigation favors the interests of property holders against the interests of groups that are overwhelmingly young and often Indigenous in North America. This paper maps out a tendency towards harsher economic penalties for protest in the U.S. and Canada and argues that the transition to extreme fines for protesters relies in part on the ramping up of the category of (the kind) of crime protest falls into which could potentially expand the number of sanctioned persons exponentially.

Received: 12 July 2022
Accepted: 17 April 2023


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How to Cite
Monforte, Tanya M. 2023. “The Price of Protest”. Deusto Journal of Human Rights, no. 11 (June), 41-71.