OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) – Three bills focusing on how police respond to protests and the rights of protestors are in the hands of Kentucky lawmakers.
The bills, sponsored by three Louisville area state representatives, were filed as a response to last year’s Breonna Taylor protests.
What happened during last year’s protests of Breonna Taylor’s death in Louisville is the subject of proposed changes to state laws this year.
“When I heard these stories, it seemed clear to me that something needed to be done to protect lawful community members,” says State Rep. Lisa Willner, D-Jefferson County. She is one of three co-sponsors of three bills filed this week focusing on police response to protests and rights of protestors. One bill bans law enforcement agencies from getting military surplus equipment, requires de-escalation training, states when exactly tear gas and rubber bullets can be used and bans kettling, where crowds are corralled into one area, and not allowed to disperse.
“It comes out of the direct firsthand observations, the stories of people who were peacefully protesting, and were met with excessive use of force by police officers, that should never happen,” State Rep. Willner says.
“The use of force was used during those protests back in the summer, it was, you know, very significant, especially when people were peacefully protesting. So, I just think, you know, training of officers can go a long way,” adds Rhondalyn Randolph of the Owensboro chapter of the NAACP.
Another bill restates that it’s not illegal for someone to take video or photos of an officer while on duty. The third changes what can be called a riot under state law to at least five people knowingly doing unlawful conduct.
“These bills truly are to protect peaceful protesters. Those who are engaging in destruction to property or injury to person should be held accountable to the full extent of the law,” says State Rep. Willner. She adds while there is public support on these bills, it’s remains to be seen if there’s enough bipartisan support in getting them passed.
You can read the three House bills by clicking on the following links:
(This story was originally published on January 12, 2021)