(The AEGIS Alliance) – It may end up being a criminal offense to insult or taunt a law enforcement officer in Kentucky, under a bill that passed through the state Senate on Thursday.
The legislation was submitted months after Louisville, the state’s biggest city, came to be the place of significant demonstrations following the police murder of Breonna Taylor. The bill passed the Republican-controlled Senate by a vote of 22-11 and now currently waits for input from the House.
Under the proposed law, any individual that “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or another physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response” shall be guilty of a misdemeanor and also face up to 90 days behind bars along with fines.
The proposition additionally raises penalties for rioting. Under circumstances, those charged with rioting would need to be held for a minimum of 48 hours. Another stipulation criminalizes aiming “a light, a laser pointer, an activated horn or another noise-making device towards the head” of a first responder.
Several Republican legislators that voted against the bill shared worries that some components of it would go against First Amendment legal rights as well as stress the judicial system. Nevertheless, they indicated assistance for the bill if some components of it were changed in the House.
State Sen Danny Carroll, a Republican that sponsored the bill, claimed he submitted the proposal in reaction to last summer’s Louisville protests against cops’ brutality and racial oppression. The protests, several of which became violent, were a regular occurrence, as protesters demanded charges to be brought against the police officers involved in Taylor’s death. Many gathered together peacefully in Jefferson Square Park in downtown Louisville that was ongoing for weeks. Dubbed “Injustice Square” by protesters, it came to be an unplanned hub throughout months of protests.
Breonna Taylor, a Black woman, was shot in her Louisville residence by multiple gunshots from cops during a mishandled drug raid. A grand jury indicted one police officer on wanton endangerment charges in September for firing right into a next-door neighbor’s home, however, no officers were charged for their involvement with her death.
Police had a no-knock warrant, however, stated they knocked and also announced their presence prior to going into Taylor’s apartment, a claim some witnesses have actually challenged. Taylor’s boyfriend, Kenneth Walker, returned fire in self-defense thinking the apartment was being burglarized and unknowing they were police. All charges against Walker have been permanently dropped, one year after the fatal shooting. No drugs were discovered in Taylor’s home.
Republicans still hold supermajorities in both the state House as well as Senate, and in August 2020 the legislators banned street protests in Louisville.
Democratic legislators cautioned that the proposal could be utilized to unjustly target peaceful protesters. State Sen Gerald Neal, a Democratic Louisville representative, called the law “unnecessary” and “unreasonable.”
“This is a hammer on my district,” Neil stated. “I personally resent it. This is beneath this body.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.