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Government/Politics

Ohio House Passes Controversial Bill On Police And Protestors

Protestors and police were in the streets of downtown Columbus on May 30, 2020, after the George Floyd murder. Several protestors were pepper-sprayed by police, including US Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus).
Jo Ingles
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Protestors and police were in the streets of downtown Columbus on May 30, 2020, after the George Floyd murder. Several protestors were pepper-sprayed by police, including US Rep. Joyce Beatty (D-Columbus).

The Ohio House has passed a bill to include not following a police officer’s order or diverting an officer’s attention into obstruction of justice. Sponsors say will protect police officers and protestors, but opponents say it could create more problems between those groups and even endanger people.

Sponsoring Rep. Shane Wilkin (R-Hillsboro) said the bill doesn’t infringe on protestors’ First Amendment rights or restrict bystanders from recording video or audio of an officer on the job. But he said it requires them to give officers space and to not do things to distract them.

“This bill is not an anti-peaceful protest bill.  The key word is peaceful," Wilkin said.

But Rep. David Leland (D-Columbus) said last year, now-former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was seen responding to people recording video and calling on him to take his knee off George Floyd’s neck.

"It seems plain to me that this statute would criminalize the actions of those bystanders, bystanders who were trying to save the life of George Floyd," Leland said.

Leland also noted the bill bans protestors from throwing flowers, glitter or water on police officers.

An analysis by the Legislative Service Commission, which does research for state lawmakers, noted that the bill "largely addresses conduct prohibited under current law", but also could potentially increase court costs for processing additional cases, but it could also mean additional revenue for courts in fines.

The bill passed on a mostly party line vote on the day Chauvin was sentenced to 22.5 years for Floyd’s murder.

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