Proposed Minnesota law targets those who train or recruit protesters who damage pipelines

Minnesota lawmakers are considering a new felony offense for anyone training or recruiting protesters who damage critical infrastructure, including pipelines.

The proposed Minnesota measures are similar to legislation in at least five other states. They would penalize “whoever intentionally recruits, trains, aids, advises, hires [or] counsels” somebody else to commit property damage on a pipeline or other “critical public service facility.” The act calls for perpetrators to be subject to felony prosecution punishable by up to 10 years in prison and/or a fine up to $20,000.

“We can’t have people instructing people on how to destroy critical infrastructure,” said Rep. Dennis Smith, R-Maple Grove, the main author of the House bill. “It’s like aiding and abetting.”

Both the Senate and House legislation also would impose civil liability on those who train and aid trespassers who damage property. The bills would extend civil liability, not just criminal responsibility, directly to trespassers, too. The legislation last week passed House and Senate committees and will move to the floor of each chamber.

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