Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott has announced he will sign a new state bill that will increase punishment against protesters who block emergency vehicles, raising the penalty to a state jail felony, The Texas Tribune reported.
“Legislation cracking down on protestors for blocking roads PASSES in the Senate,” Abbott tweeted Saturday. “Peaceful protest doesn’t include blocking roadways & preventing emergency vehicle access. That chaos won’t be tolerated in Texas.”
A serious response to a serious issue
“Thanks to @StephanieKlick & @DonnaCampbellTX. I will sign soon,” the governor tweeted.
Legislation cracking down on protestors for blocking roads PASSES in the Senate.
Peaceful protest doesn’t include blocking roadways & preventing emergency vehicle access. That chaos won’t be tolerated in Texas.
I will sign soon.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 22, 2021
Texas House Bill 9 will make “intentionally, knowingly, or recklessly blocking an emergency vehicle operating its emergency lights or siren or a hospital entrance” a state jail felony. The bill will also require as a condition of community supervision that a person serve no fewer than 10 days in jail, according to The Daily Wire.
“In an emergency, seconds matter,” said Republican state Rep. Stephanie Klick. “We all have a constitutional right to peaceably assemble under the First Amendment, but what we don’t have is a right to prevent authorized emergency vehicles that can provide life saving care.”
The Texas Senate passed the legislation in a 25-5 vote. The state House previously passed the bill in a 90-55 vote, according to The Texas Tribune.
Not everyone is happy
The Tribune also noted that state Rep. Joe Moody, an El Paso Democrat and co-chair of the House Criminal Justice Reform Caucus, criticized the bill, saying it sets itself apart from any other Texas law on mandatory minimums as it will require at least 10 days in jail even if the person had no criminal history.
The new law serves as a response to many protests and riots since the death of George Floyd in 2020 sparked violent and destructive riots nationwide.
Some protests have included blocking emergency vehicles, a move that could potentially serve as a life-and-death risk.