State Senate Votes to Crack Down on Potentially Violent Protests

Feb 23, 2017

The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would make it a crime to organize a protest that turns violent. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, Republican lawmakers say enhanced measures are needed. 

Police pepper spray anti-Trump protesters during clashes in Washington, DC, on Jan. 20, 2017.
Credit AFP via Getty Images/Jewel SAMAD

Under SB1142, rioting would be added to Arizona’s organized crime statutes. It would allow a protest organizer to be charged with racketeering even if they personally were not involved in the ensuing violence. Those convicted could also have their assets seized.

Lake Havasu Republican Sonny Borrelli sponsored the bill. He says it’s necessary to discourage rioting at public demonstrations, and push back against groups he claims pay protesters.

Democrats in the Senate, however, say the bill could be unconstitutional, have damaging effects on free speech, and entrap innocent bystanders.

The bill now goes to the House for its consideration.