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Tell the legislature to stop taking away your rights! Say NO to House Bill 784
HB 784 was crafted in response to the outcry for democracy and justice after the killing of George Floyd this summer and the protests that ensured. House Bill 784 will take away our First Amendment right to assemble, the right to speak freely, and the right to petition the government. The Ohio Legislature must not give in to fear mongering and uphold all Ohioans rights under the Ohio and United States Constitutions.
Since November 2016 unprecedented numbers of protests have taken place in our country. People have lifted their voices, demanding to be heard. Our elected officials should be engaging with their constituents and listening to the concerns these protesters are bringing to them. Our elected officials are responsible for representing the will of the community. The First Amendment guarantees the right of the people to assemble, the right to speak freely, and the right to petition the government.
House Bill 784 will take away these rights. The bill is sponsored by Representatives Cindy Abrams (R, Harrison OH) and Sara Carruthers (R from Hamilton, OH).
House Bill 784 will:
- Create a new civil and criminal defense for anyone who uses force, including deadly force, to escape from a "riot."
- Excuse a person who "reasonably believes" they are in danger of imminent injury from a riot, from taking "any steps necessary to flee," and would justify their "using or threatening to use reasonable force, including deadly force, to escape."
- The provision could encourage the use of violence against protesters.
- The bill would also create steep new penalties for interfering with or blocking traffic during an unpermitted protest.
- "Hindering or preventing movement" of persons on roads (a minor misdemeanor under current law) would become a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 3 years in prison and $10,000, if it occurred during a protest that had not received a permit, or a protest that exceeded its issued permit.
- The bill would also enable law enforcement officers to sue protesters and any organizational supporters of protests if the officers suffered injury or property damage as a result of a riot.
- Ohio law defines "riot" to include engaging in "disorderly conduct" (including "recklessly caus[ing] inconvenience [or] annoyance") with four or more persons "to hinder, impede, or obstruct a function of government"—a definition broad enough to cover peaceful protests.
House Bill 784 is an unconstitutional suppression of our rights. This legislation was crafted in response to the outcry for democracy and justice after the killing of George Floyd this summer and the protests that ensued. Our own Ohio Congresswoman Joyce Beatty was pepper-sprayed while showing her support for the non-violent protestor exercising their democratic right to freedom to assemble and free speech.
The Ohio Legislature must not give in to fear-mongering and uphold all Ohioans’ rights under the Ohio and United States Constitutions.
House Bill 784 does not represent the interests of Ohioans. This bill must never become law.