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Republicans Pull Back Slightly On Bill Criminalizing Many Protesters

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Lauren Chapman
/
IPB News

Republicans in a Senate committee pulled back slightly Tuesday on a bill that originally would’ve criminalized almost anyone attending a protest that turns violent.

The measure’s initial language said anyone at such a protest could be charged with a Class B misdemeanor unless they immediately leave or alert police, whether or not they were involved in the violence.

Sen. Mike Young (R-Indianapolis), the bill’s author, deleted that language and instead created a new crime, a conspiracy charge for misdemeanors committed while attending a protest.

“All this is is an attempt to make sure we can have peaceful protests by our citizens, that their message is heard loud and clear by the elected officials and to keep our businesses safe,” Young said.

Young also removed language from the bill that said all rioters could be charged with felony murder if anyone at that riot was killed.

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

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Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said the legislation is still misguided.

“This bill does not just … try to protect people’s freedom of speech," Taylor said. "It creates liability and I think that liability’s gonna create a lessening of people’s freedom of speech.”

The bill, which is aimed at last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, passed committee along party lines. It now heads to the full Senate.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.