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Ohio House Republicans Introduce Bill To Increase Fines For Looting And Rioting

Hand prints in red paint were left on the west columns and stairs at the Ohio Statehouse as part of a protest on June 18.
Karen Kasler
/
Statehouse News Bureau
Hand prints in red paint were left on the west columns and stairs at the Ohio Statehouse as part of a protest on June 18.

Two Republican lawmakers in the Ohio House are introducing a bill that they say will crack down on people they call "looters" and "rioters" – those who perpetuate violence or damage to property as part of protests.

State Rep. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) argues the bill protects free speech of protestors.

“This bill, in no way, infringes upon the rights of Ohioans to freely speak and peacefully assemble," Abrams says.

But state Rep. Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) says this bill is needed to protect officers, businesses and Ohioans who want to express their freedom of speech.

"These types of reckless and irresponsible actions, typically from a handful of agitators, detract from the core message law-abiding demonstrators are trying to convey," Carruthers says.

Carruthers says this bill will increase penalties for those who commit violence against police and vandalize property.

“When businesses are boarded up as they are now and shut down by irresponsible actions of a few agitators, law-abiding citizens suffer the loss," Carruthers says.

The pair says they’re hoping the bill will be taken up in the lame duck legislative session, though Republicans will still be in control next year.