ELSMERE, Ky. (FOX19) - The Kentucky Senate passed a bill Thursday that would make it a crime to insult police officers and increase penalties for rioting.
Those who protested the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor say this won’t stop them from speaking out against the police.
”You cannot muzzle or silence a revolution, so even if you take all of us to jail tomorrow there’s gonna be crew number two coming then three and four so I don’t know what the goals or intent is but I am very disappointed in Kentucky today,” says Chris Brown of E.A.T Elsmere.
Sponsors say Senate Bill 211 comes in response to some protests which turned violent across the country this past summer.
”If you see the riots, you see people getting in these officers’ faces, yelling in their ears, doing anything they can to provoke a violent response,” says bill sponsor Sen. Danny Carroll.
Titled the Community and First Responder Protection Act, sb 211, supporters say they hope it would discourage out-of-state agitators from inciting riots in Kentucky.
It was passed by a 22-11 vote, just two days before the anniversary of Breonna Taylor’s death.
”It’s the most sickening thing. I mean it doesn’t shock me honestly being in Kentucky,“ says Brown.
The bill would make it a crime to insult or taunt police during a riot, resulting in up to three months in prison.
”I know this new law of not saying nothing to police. I’m going to jail because my mouth is bad,” says protestor Mandy Roby.
“It’s nothing but suppressing protesters shutting down black voices and those that support black voices, and it is a suppression and attempt to suppress first amendment rights,” says civil rights attorney David Mour.
The entry of the bill has many asking questions that have yet to be answered.
”Whenever we go and say something to them, what’s considered an insult and what’s not? And again, how is this law just coming out?” asks Roby.
“I cannot believe any lawyer or person who has studied constitutional law there’s no chance of this bill if it’s made a statute, would stand constitutional and anybody who thinks this is not a slap at protesters,” says Mour.
”This is not about protest. This is not about lawful protest, in any way, shape, form, or fashion. This country was built on lawful protest, and it’s something we must maintain our citizens’ right to do so. What this deals with is those who cross the line and commit criminal acts.” says Sen. Carroll.
The proposal also increases penalties for rioting. For instance, those charged with rioting would be required to be held for a minimum of 48 hours.
The bill currently awaits input from the house.
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