Bills introduced to help deter violent and destructive protestors
DELAWARE – Four bills are making their way through the Delaware general assembly which would increase the penalty on violent protests.
Senate Bills 223, 221, 220, and 219 all aim to provide the courts, law enforcement, and prosecutors with additional tools to deal with destructive and dangerous conduct during times of civil unrest.
Senate bill 223 creates the crime of riotous destruction of a public monument. Senate bill 221 creates the crime of riotous burning, which is a class B felony unless another individual is injured as a result of the riotous burning, in which case it is a class A felony. Senate bill 220 creates the crime of looting, which is classified as a class C felony.
The fourth bill, Senate bill 219 “Enhances the existing law by making it a crime to do the following, unlawfully manufacturing, using, throwing, transferring, or possessing a bomb, incendiary device, Molotov cocktail, or device designed to explode or produce uncontained combustion during a civil disorder event and injure another person. This Act also makes technical corrections to conform existing law to the standards of the Delaware Legislative Drafting Manual.
The sponsor of the bill, Senator Dave Lawson says civil rights are important but these bills will enforce the importance of peacefully protesting. “Well anytime you start destroying property or have an incinerating device or anything that shows your intent to harm, that goes well beyond being able to voice your opinion and voice your concern and peacefully protest and assemble,” says Senator Lawson.
Sen. Lawson tells 47 ABC, some responsibilities come with protesting, but knowing your civil rights is important to be able to do so. “You can’t damage people’s property, trespass, or do things like that without the consequences of the law coming down on you. So there are some limits to those broad assertions.” He goes on to say, “I totally agree with peaceful protests and getting out there and getting your voice heard but not at the cost of someone else.” Lawson adds, “I think it comes from frustration and ignorance, we have to seek out the root of what’s the frustration, why aren’t they being heard.”
All four bills are waiting for consideration in Committee.