Kentucky Republicans consider bill that would penalize rioters for insulting police officers

Violent protests and riots, unfortunately, have become a regular occurrence in many American cities over the past year, and they often feature left-wing agitators hurling nasty insults at police officers.

But those insults could soon come to a halt in at least one state. The Washington Examiner reports that a bill being considered in Kentucky means that the potty-mouth rioters could face unwanted consequences if they’re caught insulting law enforcement officers. 

What does the bill say?

The legislation would make it illegal to accost an officer with “offensive or derisive words” or “gestures or physical contact” that a “reasonable and prudent person” would see as likely to provoke a violent response.

Introduced by Republican state Sen. Danny Carroll, the bill would make violators liable for a $250 fine and up to three months of incarceration. Those convicted could also be stripped of public assistance for up to three months.

“This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form, or fashion,” said Carroll, a retired law enforcement officer.

“This country was built on lawful protest, and it’s something that we must maintain — our citizens’ right to do so,” he added. “What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts.”

First Amendment violation?

However, the Examiner noted that Democrats have already raised First Amendment concerns over Carroll’s bill, arguing that it runs afoul of the freedom of speech granted to the protesters.

One opponent of the legislation is Democratic state Sen. David Yates, who suggested that police officers are unlikely to react violently to provocation.

“I don’t believe that any of my good officers are going to be provoked to a violent response because somebody does a ‘yo mama’ joke or whatnot,” Yates said.

Anti-police violence remains a problem

As the Examiner reported, Carroll’s bill has already passed in a Senate committee, with seven members voting in favor and three in opposition of the controversial bill. While the new legislation could come up for a vote in the full state Senate next week, it’s not clear whether the state House will take it up before calling a recess.

Anti-police sentiment remains strong in some quarters, a fact that was on display in Tacoma, Washington earlier this year when demonstrators rioted over an incident involving an illegal drag race.

Fox News reported that rioters engaged in wide-spread vandalism and targeted law enforcement facilities. “They tried to break prisoners out of the local jail by trying to pull down the fencing. It was as bad as you might expect,” a witness to the event reportedly said.

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