NewsPublic Affairs / January 18, 2017

Lawmakers Delay Vote On Bill To Clear Protesters From Roads

The proposal raised alarm with lawmakers and members of the public Wednesday at its first hearing. 2017 legislative session, Senate Local Government Committee, James Tomes2017-01-18T00:00:00-05:00
Article origination IPBS-RJC
Lawmakers Delay Vote On Bill To Clear Protesters From Roads

The Senate Local Government Committee will wait to vote on a bill that would require law enforcement to clear protesters from roadways by “any means necessary.” The proposal raised alarm with lawmakers and members of the public Wednesday at its first hearing.

Annie Ropeik/IPB

The Senate Local Government Committee will wait to vote on a bill that would require law enforcement to clear protesters from roadways by “any means necessary.”

The proposal raised alarm with lawmakers and members of the public Wednesday at its first hearing.

The bill, from state Sen. James Tomes (R-Wadesville), would require a mayor or other public official to dispatch all available law enforcement within 15 minutes of a report of a mass traffic obstruction.

Tomes’ bill defines that, in this case, as 10 or more members of a “protest, riot or other assembly” who are unlawfully blocking vehicular traffic. Police would be required to “use any means necessary” to move them out of the road.

Tomes says he’s worried protests, like ones members of the Black Lives Matter movement held on California freeways last summer, can obstruct ambulances and inconvenience drivers. He says protesters need permits so cities can plan detours.

“I always hear the cry, ‘I have my rights,’ but I don’t recall ever hearing on a newscast someone screaming, ‘I have my obligation,’” Tomes says. “And with rights comes obligation.”

But others on the local government committee and in the audience said police already could arrest protesters who broke the law. Some worried the bill, as written, would infringe on rights and force police to go too far with intervention.

Some in the hearing’s audience wore Black Lives Matter shirts, but didn’t testify.

Committee chairman Sen. Jim Buck (R-Kokomo) says the bill needs amending before it’s sent to the full Senate.

 

 

Related News

Lawmakers Face Tight Budget After New Revenue Forecast
DCS Funding Request Likely A Guarantee In Next State Budget
State Veterans Affairs Director Resigns