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According to social justice activists and civil rights activists who testified against the bill, the Ohio Republican Party on Friday passed a bill expanding the definition of “court obstruction” broad enough to capture demonstrations.
The legislation is considered an obstruction of justice if it does not respect the âlegal orders of law enforcement officersâ.
It also prohibits “reckless disdain” from interfering or interfering with police officers in the workplace to find out whether their actions distract or obstruct police officers. This includes entering or placing objects in places that are too large for police to reach outside of the area.
Republicans said the law would establish basic protection for officers a year after an increase in violence and turbulent social justice protests.
The Democratic Party said the legislation was unnecessary and divided. âIt’s another dog whistle on the breed, fueling the flames of cultural warfare,â said D-Parma member Jeff Crossman.
Crossman proposes an amendment that exempts anyone from making allegations of use of force or threat of use of force against police if they âact in good faithâ to avoid death or serious injury. Did. The amendment failed on the party line.
In addition, the law prohibits people from throwing objects or substances “intentionally to distract” officers.
TheÂ· building According to an analysis by the Legislative Services Commission, these are mainly acts that are already illegal under Ohio law. It provides more charges that prosecutors can impose on alleged offenders.
The spread of court obstruction would be two minor offenses, or five crimes if it causes physical harm to a person. Two degrees Minor delinquency A conviction can lead to up to 90 days. 5 degrees crime Generate sentences between 6 and 12 months.
Massive racial justice protests formed nationwide after Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, an unarmed black man suspected of using fake $ 20 bills, with a camera last summer . .. Activists have criticized racial profiling and the use of excessive force by officers to races of color.
Some of the early demonstrations degenerated into violence and looting. However, researchers looked at 2,400 demos nationwide between May and August 2020, Less than 220 people (around 7%) became violent..
Either way, Republican-controlled legislatures across the United States have introduced and passed various proposals to expand or build new charges that can be brought against protesters. A more extreme proposition in Ohio is Extend the right of citizens to shoot with legitimate defense recognized during “riots” – A loosely defined term in Ohio law.
“This bill is not a bill against peaceful protests,” said Shane Wilkin, one of R-Lynchburg’s main sponsors. “The key word is peace.”
The version of the bill submitted by the House Criminal Justice Committee on Thursday is significantly narrower than the one presented. “Provocation[ing]Under the original bill, the police would have been eligible for obstruction of justice.
Republican Representative Jeff LaRe of Violet Township. Wilkin then sponsored the proposal. In their written testimony before the Commission, they denied their intention to violate the freedom of expression and the right of assembly of individuals. They said it was to protect law enforcement officers.
“The peaceful protests turned violent when bad guys who were not involved in police problems began to abuse, harass and totally obstruct law enforcement in the performance of their duties,” they said. declared. writing.
Racial justice groups, public defenders, the ACLUs, religious groups focused on social justice and libertarian Americans for prosperity have opposed the bill.
Tom Roberts, president of the NAACP Ohio Conference, said:
“Due to the overwhelming issue here between Ohio and law enforcement across the country, the bill is poorly timed and unresponsive to many communities of color.”
An advocacy group representing police and prosecutors who have testified in favor of the bill. Preble County Sheriff Mike Simpson, who represents the Buckeye Sheriffs Association, said some people were affected by riots last summer as “a way to promote violence.”
He said Bill 22 would ban “conversion tactics” by those who attempt to distract, confuse, and interfere with law enforcement.
Analyst of the Legislative Services CommissionConducting a political inquiry for lawmakers, found that the law could increase the number of felons sentenced to prison and extend certain periods. This could increase the annual prison costs per criminal from $ 3,000 to $ 4,000.
Former Columbus Police Chief Thomas Quinnlan testified in favor of the bill with similar policies, including during protests last summer.
In May, U.S. District Court Judge Algenon Marbley Bulbs, Reviews on page 88 Columbus Police prohibit nonviolent protesters from using tear gas, pepper spray, batons and rubber bullets. He found that the police used their power “indiscriminately” and without provocation.
“It’s the sad story of a runaway policeman dressed in the great power of the nation,” he wrote.
As Ohio Legislative President Thomas West pointed out in a post-vote statement, only seven supporters testified in favor of the bill, with more than 100 against.
He said the bill “sows more fear” by trying to criminalize the right to protest.
âThis bill moves Ohio in the opposite direction, let alone a similar law pending before the agency,â he said. âHB22 does not promote the safety and security of our officers and individuals exercising First Amendment rights. This only creates more tension and potential conflict. “
The bill is now sent to the Senate for deliberation.
This article was republished with permission from the Ohio Capital Journal. For more information on Ohio Political News, please visit: www.ohiocapitaljournal.com..
Ohio House passes bill, launches new criminal charge against protesters