May Day began as an ancient European spring festival. Traditionally, it includes dancing, folk music and the giving of small baskets of sweets or flowers, usually left anonymously at someone’s doorstep. In addition, more than a century ago, May Day also became known as “International Workers’ Day.”
This May 1, in many parts of the United States (and the world), thousands of laborers, demonstrators and supporters marched and rallied for worker and immigrant rights. Non-violent civic demonstrations, like many of those that took place this May Day, can be highly effective tools for social change. Freedom of speech and the right to peacefully assemble are part of what makes our country a great place to live.
In fact, nonviolent movements are inherently democratic, a kind of popular mass support that stands outside the ballot box. Violence, on the other hand, regardless of how pure the motives, is all about legitimizing power through force.
Regrettably, in recent years, a handful of demonstrators in the Seattle area disrupted peaceful May Day demonstrations by committing violent acts. Smashing windows, damaging property, and worse, injuring the men and women wearing badges sworn to protect them and keep the peace. Last year in Seattle, five police officers were injured and nine protesters arrested during the May Day protests. The ideals the demonstrators rallied for was drown out by a radical few whose only agenda for social change was anarchy. Thankfully, this year it was different. Seattle’s May Day events were, for the most part, non-violent. It is my hope, and prayer non-violence becomes the new trend for May Day events in the years to come.
Key public safety bills approved during the 2017 session
As assistant ranking minority member on the House Judiciary Committee, it was gratifying to see a number of important public safety bills approved by the Legislature and sent to the governor for signature this year. While there is not enough space in this article to list them all, here are some of the key measures approved this session:
Senate Bill 5037 will help prosecute repeat DUI offenders. It currently takes five DUI offenses for a felony conviction. This bill will make a fourth driving under the influence (DUI) a felony. Oregon and Idaho enforce felony charges on the third offense. It is great to see Washington begin to put tougher DUI laws in place.
Senate Bill 5030 extends the statute of limitations to prosecute criminals who commit human trafficking crimes and commercial sexual abuse. It also broadens the definition of “compensation” to things like, food, drugs, shelter, and jewelry, which are often used by traffickers to control victims. This bill will make it easier to prosecute the criminals that commit these types of horrible crimes.
Senate Bill 5813 eliminates a line of defense used by some human trafficking criminals when they protest that they “didn’t know the age of the victim.” This crimes-against-minors bill will make it easier for prosecutors to seek longer sentences when victims are underage.
Senate Bill 5810 was prompted by a case in Whatcom County of attempted murder. A stranger slashed a woman’s throat and left her for dead. She survived. It was later discovered by investigators that the man had been hired to kill her. However, investigators have been scrambling to put to together a case against the culprit suspected of hiring the hitman before the three-year statute of limitations is over. This bill changes the current statute of limitations for attempted murder from three to ten years.