Donald Trump Riots – 3rd World Fiasco Friday Could Have Been Prevented But His Supporters Failed to Take Advantage of a Unique Opportunity

WASHINGTON, D.C. (April 30, 2016): The appalling spectacle yesterday of a major presidential candidate having to hop a fence and sneak though a strange tunnel-like route to hide from an out-of-control mob is more reminiscent of a third world country than the world’s most powerful democracy, and it might well have been prevented if only one or more of his Arizona supporters had “Sued the Bastards” after similar lawlessness forced many of them to be trapped in their cars, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf, who had suggested the legal action based upon a law suit he helped instigate in New Jersey.

It’s bad enough that many major universities let student lawbreakers stop speeches on campus, but when it escalates to the point where a major political figure is forced to abandon a planned rally in Chicago because of criminal activity, and where other criminals trapped people in their cars for hours under the hot Arizona sun, it becomes nothing less than a national disgrace for our own citizens, and for viewers around the world, to see a scene which resembles backward countries which have degenerated into mob rule, says Banzhaf.

Fortunately, there is a simple solution – one which is being used in New Jersey – which would almost certainly be more effective at deterring those opposed to any candidate from resorting to illegal activities to express their displeasure than mere arrests and the threat of small fines.

Donald Trump Riots – solution

The simple solution was outlined weeks ago in an Op-Ed in the prestigious legal publication, the “National Law Journal” entitled: “WHEN THE RABBLE-ROUSING TURNS CRIMINAL, THERE’S A CIVIL SOLUTION – Protests Are a Good Thing, but Blocking Access and Inciting Violence Must Stop.”

The piece argues that the popular slogan “Sue The Bastards” should be morphing into ‘SUE THE DISRUPTORS,” and was described this way at the time.

“Because the threat of arrest and small fines obviously isn’t discouraging a growing number of political protesters from engaging in criminal activities such as blocking streets or entrances to buildings, as well as violence to property, the author – public interest law professor John Banzhaf – suggests that all those adversely affected should sue the disruptors for civil damages under a variety of legal theories, some of which have already been successful.”

Donald Trump Riots – civil liability

“He noted that civil actions against those who engaged in criminal activity can give rise not only to actual and nominal damages, but also to much higher punitive damages, and that – as in the situation which occurred in Arizona – probably can be brought as a class action on behalf of all the drivers and passengers who suffered from the torts of ‘false imprisonment,’ ‘civil conspiracy,’ etc.”

“Moreover, because the civil liability is what lawyers term “joint and several,” any one protester can be held liable – through the seizure of (or levy on) his real or personal property, garnishment of wages, etc. – for the entire amount of any judgment awarded.”

“Protesters who might not worry about small criminal fines are much more likely to be deterred if a few were hit with judgments of hundreds of thousands of dollars which could take from them many of their current possessions, as well as follow them for many years in the form a mandatory deductions from their salaries, says Banzhaf.”

“He includes in his proposal ‘what we have unfortunately all too often tolerated on college campuses – -protesters who interrupt speakers to prevent others from hearing them, who physically block attendees’ access, and who threaten violence to squelch speech. Unless we do something about it, the problem will persist – and could get worse,’ he argues.”

The article provides real examples where those fed up with lawless protests struck back effectively with legal action.

It notes, for example: “Last year, the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society was forced to pay $2.55 million to Japanese companies for illegally using acid and smoke bombs to disrupt their whaling. In other situations, several different students were forced to make five-figure restitution payments because of their criminal disruptions of construction projects. Similarly, 11 who engaged in illegal activities at the Mall of America faced a $40,000 restitution claim, and 14 disrupters who chained themselves to a train faced even larger claims, although both were reportedly later dropped.”

The piece concludes as follow: “It’s neither unfair nor unreasonable to hold criminals liable for the harm they callously and deliberately cause to others. In these situations, and in many too numerous to mention on college campuses, the threat of arrest and small criminal fines hasn’t deterred small groups from inconveniencing the much larger public, just to make their point. Perhaps it’s time to add something stronger to the arsenal – ‘Sue The Disruptors.'”

Donald Trump Riots – going forward

Reflecting on Friday’s humiliating experience for Trump, Banzhaf notes that those trapped in their cars in Arizona could still bring either an individual or class action against those known – through their arrests and trials or otherwise – to have engaged in that criminal action.

He argues that the mere filing of such a multi-million dollar class action law suit against the individual criminals is likely to dampen the ardor of those who might otherwise be tempted to engage in criminal activities in an attempt to shut him or other candidates down.

Also, the more filing of the law suit opens the door to widespread pre-trial discovery – demanding the production of documents, including emails and postings on social media, as well as any relevant financial transactions; requiring any person involved to answer probing questions under oath, etc. – which may reveal if others, including financial backers, may have played an important role behind the scenes.

JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School

Donald Trump Riots

Donald Trump Riots