Indiana Bill Gives Police Power in Protests

An effort to keep protesters out of the street could give police more power.

In protests across the country, we've seen traffic blocked, officers injured, and people arrested. Now a Tri-State lawmaker looks to take action.

Republican State Senator, Jim Tomes of Wadesville has authored a bill that would help police officers keep people from blocking traffic during a protest or march.

“It's important to exercise your rights to peaceful protest,” says Molly Fahrlander. “Being in the middle of a street and blocking the street would definitely be very harmful.”

Some across the country don't follow that suggestion, and that's who Tomes targets with the proposed state law.

Alan Williamson, though hesitant, understands how law enforcement could need additional authority. “If it was an unauthorized non-permitted protest,” he says, “I can see where the police would need to do something more than normal.”

The legislation says if a group of ten or more people block the street, police could use “any means necessary” to get the group out of the way.

“That verbiage, 'by any means necessary' is not good,” Williamson adds.

Fahrlander agrees. “That makes me a little bit nervous, with everything going on with law enforcement nowadays.” Fahrlander adds, she's not anti-law enforcement, “but that's a little bit unsettling.”

Joann Learman says the bill is “entirely un-American,” but is sure the measure would never pass through the legislature.

“If we want to turn into Soviet Russia or China, that's the quickest way to do it,” she adds.

Critics say the bill threatens a fundamental right of democracy. Others argue it's best to keep protests on the sidewalk.

The bill is still in committee, and there will likely be amendments before it takes the Senate floor.


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