Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds on Thursday enacted the “Back the Blue” bill, increasing penalties for protest-related crimes.
“We encourage First Amendment rights to protest peacefully, but if you break the law you will be held accountable,” the governor said, according to KCCI-TV in Des Moines.
Reynolds said those who riot, loot or attack officers “will be punished with the full force of the law. Public peace is too important and the safety of our officers too valuable to tolerate destructive behavior.”
“Public peace is too important, and the safety of our officers too valuable, to tolerate destructive behavior.”
The law makes riots a felony rather than a misdemeanor and increases penalties for blocking streets, according to KCCI.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Iowa is against the bill and critics say it will scare people into protesting.
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“Lawmakers know that the new penalties and crimes in this law will intimidate those who want to exercise their right to protest, while understanding that by doing so they risk unlawful police violence and arrests,” said Executive Director Mark Stringer in the press release, according to the Des Moines register. “Because this law aims to stifle legitimate protesters, it is nothing less than an attack on free speech in our state.”
Reynolds, a Republican, brushed aside the criticism, saying that as long as the protesters don’t break the law, it won’t apply to them.
“Like so many Iowans, I was raised to be grateful for the heroes who patrol our streets at the risk of their lives and great sacrifices and, tragically, this fundamental and healthy part of American culture is now making the mark. ‘object of vicious attacks, “she added, KCCI reported.
A year ago, the governor signed a law banning most strangling by police and aimed at increasing the accountability of officers.
She said both laws are important.
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“There is no contradiction between unwavering support for honorable and selfless police officers – the vast majority – and a commitment to improving policing,” Reynolds said, according to the registry. “There is no contradiction between a world class investigation and treating victims of crime the way we would like to be treated. And there is no contradiction between vigorous policing and community outreach. that builds trust between law enforcement and the people of Iowa. “
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