At what point does political confrontation become stalking?

“. . . I need you to go out and talk to your friends and talk to your neighbors. I want you to talk to them whether they are independent or whether they are Republican. I want you to argue with them and get in their face!” Senator Obama 2008

What happens when your neighbor really doesn’t want you in their face but you persist anyway? Could it become a criminal offense under an anti-stalking statute?

While the original intent of the laws against stalking was directed to protect women against harassment and/or unwanted contact by males, but the laws are very broad and do not contain any restrictions related gender or sex. For example, here is the DC statute:

It is unlawful for a person to purposefully engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific individual:
(1) With the intent to cause that individual to:
(A) Fear for his or her safety or the safety of another person;
(B) Feel seriously alarmed, disturbed, or frightened; or Suffer emotional distress . . .

The law addresses a pattern of behavior. An individual incident may be perfectly legal, but repeated actions may be stalking. In many states a notice by the alleged victim that further contact is unwanted is sufficient to remove any doubt about the nature of the encounter.

For example, consider the recent case where the owner of the Red Hen Restaurant expelled Sarah Sanders, the Trump administration’s press secretary. The owner was within her legal right to refuse service to Sanders. However according to some reports, the owner then followed Sanders and her party outside and “followed them across the street, called people and organized a protest yelling and screaming at them from outside the other restaurant and creating this scene.”

According the Virginia statute, these actions together may amount to stalking. This is especially true if anyone in the Sanders party told the owner not to follow them. Here is the Virginia statute:

Should anti-stalking laws apply to political harassment?

Or are political confrontations exempt from stalking laws?

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So are you against this, too?

What I see is a single protest; I don’t see how stalking laws would apply.

The first amendment protects free speech even if it is rude or offensive. If protesters continued to follow Pelosi around, that might meet the legal requirement for stalking.

Do you think that anti-stalking laws should be rewritten to make it clear that politicians are exempt from protection?

On the other hand, in Germany there is a proposal to create a law to protect political figures from stalking. Here is a report:

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Consider also when an individual convinces multiple others to stalk so that no one stalker can be prosecuted. The individual with the political influence should be held accountable.

Yes, the law is not clear about what happens when a group is stalking, not just one individual.

For example, Berkeley Republicans are claiming that Antifa operatives are stalking them. Here is a report: Berkeley Antifa Are Targeting, Intimidating And Stalking College Republicans | The Daily Caller

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Donald openly condoned violence against political opponents at his rallies.

But that’s different, because Donald is merely counterpunching against the incivility of the lib mob. Smash mouth is the only political currency they respect.

not all targets of anti-republican lynching are unarmed…

You missed a section of the VA code.

…the conduct places that other person in reasonable fear of death, criminal sexual assault, or bodily injury to that other person or to that other person’s family or household member is guilty…

These are questions that can easily be answered by law enforcement.

Yes, I am.

Is that true in Maryland as well?


Every state will have the “reasonable fear” element.

Yes, Virginia is more restrictive than DC. The federal statute is similar to the DC statute:

. . . causes, attempts to cause, or would be reasonably expected to cause substantial emotional distress . . .

The federal law only applies if the person is travels related to interstate commerce and few other cases, but given the broad definition of interstate commerce that could mean almost anything.

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The DC statute is rather liberally written, but it still wouldn’t apply.

Following her down the street is not a “pattern of behavior”, it’s a single event.

Very easy to articulate given recent events.

What “recent events” are you referring to, exactly?

Yes I’m against it but it had to happen eventually. Its human nature to be pushed just so far without some pushback. When you gin up anger, hatred and mob mentality it becomes a two way street! Liberal Democrats are getting some of their own medicine.

Additionally, the Maryland statute specifically exempts “political speech”.

(b) Exception.- This section does not apply to a peaceable activity intended to express a political view or provide information to others.

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Cool…just don’t ever let us catch you claiming to be morally superior to anyone again, if you are willing to use tactics you would call morally reprehensible to get back at someone else, okay?

Interesting. Memories from SEIU and banking exexutives’ houses are coming back.