A bill in Kentucky that advanced through the state’s Senate committee on Thursday would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer during a riot, the Louisville Courier-Journal reports.
Senate Bill 211, or SB211, stipulates that anyone who “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words,” or makes “gestures or other physical contact that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person” could be imprisoned for 90 days.
A person convicted of this misdemeanor crime could also be fined $250 and have their public assistance benefits taken away from them for three months.
Sen. Danny Carroll, a retired police officer and lead sponsor of SB211, explained to the committee that this bill is in direct response to the “riots” he witnessed in Louisville and other cities across the country last year. Carroll claims officers were being provoked into a violent response, and this legislation allows them to react if they deem it necessary.
The bill passed through the Senate’s Veterans, Military Affairs and Public Protection committee with a 7-3 vote where it was solely supported by Republicans. Sen. David Yates, a Democrat from Louisville, warned of the “dangerous” language in the bill. Additionally, the ACLU of Kentucky called it "an extreme bill to stifle dissent” and criminalize free speech.
The bill is headed to the Senate where it could be passed by next week before getting handed off to the House.