Lawmakers in Kentucky have advanced a bill that would make it a crime to insult or taunt law enforcement officers in any way that could provoke a violent response.
According to CNN, it’s one of several provisions included in a larger bill looking to increase penalties for any crimes committed in relation to riots passed by the state Senate last week.
According to the bill, any person who “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response” in a public forum would be considered guilty of disorderly conduct in the second degree.
The offense would be classified as a Class B misdemeanor which would be punishable by up to 90 days in jail or a fine up to $250.
The bill’s language around the “intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance, or alarm” is said to be a direct reference to last year’s demonstrations in Louisville and many other cities across the nation that rose in response to the numerous examples of racial injustice.
The Republican state Senator Danny Carroll, who is also the bill’s lead sponsor, said he introduced the bill as a response to violence and vandalism seen over recent months, CNN affiliate WAVE reported.
“This is not about lawful protest in any way, shape, form or fashion,” Carroll said. “This country was built on lawful protest and it’s something we must maintain — our citizens’ right to do so,” he continued.
“What this deals with are those who cross the line and commit criminal acts. If you see the riots, you see people getting in these officers’ faces, yelling in their ears, doing anything they can to provoke a violent response,” Carroll explained.