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Republicans in Kentucky are attempting to push through a bill that contains a provision that would impose a disorderly conduct charge on trash-talking rioters who try to provoke police officers into reacting violently.
Part of a larger bill, S.B. 211, the provision calls for a charge for any rioter who “[a]ccosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.”
Anyone convicted of this Class B misdemeanor offense would face, in addition to the regular punishment, a $250 fine and a three-month ban from collecting welfare.
The bill’s lead sponsor, State Sen. Danny Carroll, a retired police officer, reportedly stressed during a committee meeting this past week that his goal isn’t to silence rioters’ right to free speech or infringe on their right to protest, but rather to hold them accountable when they cross the line.
“This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form or fashion. This country was built on lawful protest, and it’s something that we must maintain — our citizens’ right to do so. What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts,” he said, according to The Courier-Journal.
As examples, he reportedly pointed to the numerous riots that occurred throughout the country last summer (Warning: Graphic content):
The “mostly peaceful protesters” are dragging cops through the streets in Chicago. pic.twitter.com/M9kP7cPlcH
— Brandon Darby (@brandondarby) May 31, 2020
Cop being attacked in Jacksonville. pic.twitter.com/3CH6zwZvGe
— Clay Travis (@ClayTravis) May 31, 2020
Police cars & streets on fire, cops attacked — and last night a Detective & Officers were hit with Molotov cocktails by would-be cop killers. As we do everything to stop NYC from burning, all we hear from elected officials is criticism. Maybe they should try it on the front line. pic.twitter.com/Spshv5Skrl
— Detectives’ Endowment Association (@NYCPDDEA) May 31, 2020
A young woman was arrested after she spat in an officer’s face after screaming, “F–k you, fascist,” tonight in the West Village. pic.twitter.com/cfgVLYJ5pc
— Elizabeth Rosner (@elizameryl) November 5, 2020
Democratic National Convictions
MINNEAPOLIS : Rioters can be seen throwing a trash can lid at officers head, striking him and sending him to the ground. pic.twitter.com/ryQtUjmhnG
— 🇺🇸Robert.N🇺🇸 (@Rob_Noorollah) August 29, 2020
Because of the provision’s wording, state Democrats and their allies have raised concerns about its potential effect on the First Amendment.
“Verbally challenging police action — even if by insult or offensive language — is a cornerstone of our democracy. And the First Amendment protects people’s ability to express themselves, even if it’s using offensive words to the police,” ACLU of Kentucky attorney Corey Shapiro said to the Courier-Journal.
State Sen. David Yates, a Democrat, meanwhile mocked the idea that any good officer would ever feel provoked into retaliating.
“I don’t believe that any of my good officers are going to be provoked to a violent response because somebody does a ‘yo mama’ joke, or whatnot,” he told the paper.
But according to Carroll, he’s missing the point.
“In these riots, you see people getting up in officers’ faces, yelling in their ears, doing everything they can to provoke a violent response,” he reportedly responded.
“I’m not saying the officers do that, but there has to be a provision within that statute to allow officers to react to that. Because that does nothing but incite those around that vicinity and it furthers and escalates the riotous behavior.”
And sometimes the accosting is outright racist:
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) August 17, 2019
— The Post Millennial (@TPostMillennial) August 17, 2019
As noted earlier, the provision pertaining to “offensive or derisive words” accounts for only a portion of the larger bill.
Seen below, and also available for review here, S.B. 211 also mandates a Class A misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to jail, for anyone who “knowingly provides supplies to a riot that can be used as weapons or dangerous instruments.”
Yet even this provision provoked complaints from Shapiro.
“Under a broad application of the provision, Shapiro feared police could arrest individuals on such a charge if they provided water bottles on a hot and sunny day if such bottles were later thrown at police,” according to the Courier-Journal.
“It’s just a common thread of legislators trying to use whatever tactics they can to chill speech, and this is just yet another attempt to do that,” the ACLU attorney reportedly complained.
Yet there is a track record of left-wing rioters throwing water bottles — and even cement “milkshakes” — at not only the police but bystanders as well.
According to renowned journalist Andy Ngo, an expert on left-wing rioting and extremism, left-wing rioters have learned how to use virtually everything from water balloons to frozen water bottles “to cause serious injury to police.”
Antifa’s weapons at riots are intentionally made to look innocuous to media, other protesters & legal observers. But I’ve seen how they’ve used tainted water balloons, frozen water bottles, small slingshots, lasers & more to cause serious injury to police. https://t.co/uskWncdoh8 pic.twitter.com/qbRW0h3gk6
— Andy Ngô (@MrAndyNgo) June 30, 2020
According to the Courier-Journal, S.B. 211 passed through a Senate committee Thursday 7-3 and will likely be addressed by the full GOP-led Senate sometime next week.
The bad news is that even if the bill makes it through the legislature, the chances of Gov. Andy Beshear, a Democrat, signing it are extraordinarily low.
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