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Kentucky Bill Would Make It A Crime to Insult Police Officer

todayMarch 15, 2021 11

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Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Benton), the bill’s lead sponsor, says the bill is a direct response to the riots from last summer.

What We Know:

  • On Thursday, March 11, the Kentucky Senate committee passed Senate Bill 211 (SB 211). The bill would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer to provoke a violent response. The initiative, which passed by a 7-3 vote, is one of the provisions included in a larger bill that intends to increase penalties for riot-related crimes.
  • Any offenses committed under SB 211 would be considered a Class B misdemeanor. People would face up to 90 days in jail and fines of around $250. According to CNN, the bill will punish anyone that “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response” in a public space.
  • Carroll introduced SB 211 after seeing numerous instances of unrest in Louisville, Kentucky in 2020. People took to the streets to protest the lack of criminal charges against police officers involved in the murder of Breonna Taylor. Caroll said he saw protestors approaching the policemen’s faces and yelling violently to upset them. He wanted to ensure that future protests are lawful.
  • Other officials and activists disagreed with SB 211. State Senator David Yates (D-Louisville) criticized the bill’s language. He said police officers are professional enough not to react violently because of protesters’ words. Corey Shapiro, an attorney for the ACLU of Kentucky, believes the idea of the legislature criminalizing speech is insulting. He says that challenging police actions, regardless if it is offensive, is a cornerstone of democracy.

SB 211 would also oppose the “Defund the Police” movement and penalize anyone who willingly provides weapons or dangerous instruments at a riot with a riot-in-the-second-degree charge. Critics of SB 211 it is considered unconstitutional because of what it’s restricting.

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