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Politics & Government

Ohio House Considers Plan To Increase Penalties For Protesters

Protesters on the sidewalk of the Ohio Statehouse face Columbus Police officers, who stood in the middle of High Street, on June 1, 2020.
Paige Pfleger
/
WOSU
Protesters on the sidewalk of the Ohio Statehouse face Columbus Police officers, who stood in the middle of High Street, on June 1, 2020.

A bill that could increase penalties on protesters will be heard in an Ohio House committee Wednesday. However, those who want to speak to the committee members about it won’t be able to do so in person.

Only written testimony is being accepted on what’s called the “Ohio Law and Order Act,” which creates a crime of riot assault with escalating penalties if a police officer is attacked and allows officers to sue people for injuries or what the bill terms false complaints.

Gary Daniels with the ACLU said the bill includes language that treats protesters as terrorists, allowing for assets to be seized an organization shut down.

“The bill is so broad and so vague they’re going to capture an awful lot of constitutionally protected free speech. And the practical and to all of this will be a lot of people are just simply going to stop speaking,” Daniels said.

The bill’s Republican sponsors, Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton), have said it supports law enforcement, small business owners and people who want to protest while holding those who break the law accountable.