Protesters gather outside City Hall for ‘protest while you can’ rally

Protesters gather outside City Hall for ‘protest while you can’ rally

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - Protestors gathered outside of City Hall Saturday as part of a statewide day of action in protests of anti-protest bills in the state’s legislature.

Lawmakers who support the bills say it’s a way to stand behind law enforcement; those protesting believe Ohioans should be concerned about their right to free speech.

Those who took to the streets today as part of the statewide ‘protest while you can’ movement say they hope these bills don’t get passed.

“We all wanted to get together, we wanted to make some noise, we wanted to protest while we can while we still have the right to do so without a felony conviction and high fines and make a statement,” said protester Kristen Beireis.

Newly introduced house bills 109 and 22 would create higher fines and prison time for anyone involved in actions deemed a riot.

It would also increase penalties for ‘diverting the attention’ of a law enforcement officer.

”Basic fundamental rights of freedom of speech is what our country is founded on, and if you take that away, you’re taking away the essence of our democracy and the essence of our ability to right the wrongs,” said protester Mary Aguilera.

”This event is so critical in these times, we’re seeing these types of legislation pop up all over the nation,” said organizer Wilder Zeiser

Here in Cincinnati, a car caravan circled city hall, every vehicle decked out with messages all in opposition of the bills.

”It’s up to the police to decide what is taunting and annoying to them, so we have been talking about things as benign as blowing bubbles or streamers could be considered annoying or could be considered at coming at the cops,” said Beireis.

If house bills 109 and 22 passes, that could lead to a felony charge.

”We already have issues with authority and decision making around, so when you add that on top of that..where does it end. Where do our rights begin and their rights end? It’s just really ridiculous,” said Aguilera.

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