I'm sure most of us are aware of the rioting that went on across the country after the police-involved deaths of American citizens such as George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. These cases just escalated the animosity and distrust of the police by many groups of people.
I remember going to downtown Dallas the day after the riots to take photos for the newspaper I worked for. It was a pretty, sunny day, and it was very quiet, with few people walking around. It was hard to imagine that the night before, chaos had reigned.
As tensions between police and citizens escalate, leaders and lawmakers have been brainstorming about how to prevent further violence on both sides of the issue. Kentucky is trying to take the lead with their Senate Bill 211 (SB 211).
The bill, sponsored in Kentucky by Sen. Danny Carroll (R-Benton), a retired police officer, has passed the Senate with a 7 - 3 vote. The Bill would allow prosecution of anyone who insults or mocks an officer to the point of causing riots or any other type of violence.
SB 211, which was inspired by the dangerous riots that took place during the summer of 2020, is now on its way to becoming a Kentucky State Law.
Sen. Carroll had stated that the riots consisted of more than looting businesses. He said that rioters often taunt the police, yelling at them and doing things to try to elicit a violent response. And riots tend to cause mass hysteria, which means that if I see you rioting, I may want to join in, even if I have no idea what the riot is about.
Carroll also said that the bill will NOT limit lawful protests, which is a first amendment right. He said that part of the country's history is based on lawful protests and that the law would only affect people who go too far and commit criminal acts.
No matter how in control officers are with their emotions, they are still people, and everyone has a breaking point to where they feel they have to respond to these things. The bill would hopefully curb the violent riots, as well as any tendency for a person that has been pulled over or has any run-ins with police to keep things calm, if not polite. It would also hopefully keep officers in check, so that cases such as Breonna Taylor's, don't happen.
Taylor was shot and killed in Louisville, which is the largest city in Kentucky, on March 13, 2020 during a police raid in her home. After her death, anti-police riots, some of which got violent, were held all summer in 2020.
The bill, if passed into law, would make person guilty of disorderly conduct, which is a Class B misdemeanor, if they deal with, "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 from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person."
Some of the senators that voted against the bill claimed that officers were above responding with violence just because of words.
An attorney for the ACLU in Kentucky, Corey Shapiro, said that the bill is offensive because it criminalizes speech.
"Verbally challenging police action — even if by insult or offensive language — is a cornerstone of our democracy," Shapiro said. "And the First Amendment protects people's ability to express themselves, even if it's using offensive words to the police."
SB 11 also provides provisions that would oppose the "defund the police" movement and make a person who "knowingly" provides supplies at a riot -- that can be used as weapons or "dangerous instruments" -- subject to a riot-in-the-second-degree charge.
"Governmental entities responsible for the funding of the various law enforcement agencies shall maintain and improve their respective financial support to the Commonwealth's law enforcement agencies," the bill states.
The legislation that advanced also removes previous controversial language that would make it a crime to camp overnight on non-campground state property.
The bill will now go to the full Senate and could be passed as early as next week, as long as there is time in this legislative session.
If this bill becomes a law, I can't help but wonder if other states will follow Kentucky's lead. I suppose they need to see the effectiveness of the proposed law. It sounds to me that it might make a little dent in the problem, but the bottom line is that WE have to control OURSELVES. That way, the cops don't have to try to do it for us.
Stay safe, be healthy and think Peace!