Democratic Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe has vetoed a bill that would have increased penalties for violent protests Friday, according to Inside NOVA.
The Republican-sponsored bill made any acts of violence towards police officers, firefighters, and members of the National Guard a class 3 felony, punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison, and a $100,000 fine. McAuliffe vetoed the measure because he wanted to include the same penalty for anyone inciting violence due to someone’s “race, religious convictions, color, sexual orientation, or national origin,” he said in a statement.
“Conspiring to riot against a law enforcement officer is a serious crime, as is inciting a riot against a person because of his race, religious convictions, color, sexual orientation, or national origin,” McAuliffe wrote. “House Bill 1791 in its original form fails to strike this needed balance.”
The governor had already told Republican lawmakers he planned to veto the bill if it didn’t include his language, and the Virginia assembly refused McAuliffe’s suggested inclusion.
Republican Delegate Scott Lingamfelter slammed McAuliffe’s decision, calling the governor’s decision “disgusting.”
“They’re putting their lives literally on the line to protect the public, and anyone who would murder them, I don’t have enough vocabulary to describe how disgusting this is to me,” Lingamfelter said.
Though none of the protests in Virginia have been violent, several dangerous protests erupted in Washington, D.C., during the weekend of President Donald Trump’s inauguration.
Additional violent protests at the University of California Berkely resulted in several physical assaults and acts of vandalism. The protests in Virginia haven’t been as violent so far to either police or members of the groups McAuliffe wants to include. Virginia protests largely featured Democratic activists protesting Republican lawmaker town hall meetings.
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