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Bill That Lets Police Officers, First Responders Sue Protesters For Harassment Is Approved By County Legislature

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Nicole Silverio Contributor
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A New York county passed legislation Monday that allows for law enforcement and first responders to sue protesters that harass or cause bodily injury to an officer.

The Major Cities Chiefs Association found that over 2,000 officers were injured in the first weeks of the protests that took place across the U.S. in response to the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd, Fox News previously reported. The Nassau County Legislature passed the bill with a 12-6 vote in an effort to hold a rioter accountable for “deliberately” targeting a law enforcement officer or first responder, the legislation stated.

“This Legislature notes with extreme concern that in many jurisdictions, outbreaks of destructive rioting and lawlessness have deliberately targeted and victimized law enforcement officers and first responders. The Legislature further recognizes that the clear intent of some of these attacks is to hinder or prevent the police from performing their duty to enforce the law and safeguard society from chaos and mass violence,” the legislation states.

“The Legislature determines that there is an urgent need to enhance the legal protections afforded to our law enforcement personnel and other first responders under the Human Rights Law, in order to encourage them in their crucial service to the community, to make them whole in the face of injury suffered at the hands of rioters and other individuals bend on lawless behavior, and to deter and punish such destructive behavior in order to protect the human rights of all people,” the bill continued.

TOPSHOT - Oregon Police wearing anti-riot gear march towards protesters through tear gas smoke during the 100th day and night of protests against racism and police brutality in Portland, Oregon, on September 5, 2020. - Police arrested dozens of people and used tear gas against hundreds of demonstrators in Portland late on September 5 as the western US city marked 100 days since Black Lives Matter protests erupted against racism and police brutality. Protests in major US cities erupted after the death of African American George Floyd in May 2020 at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. (Photo by Allison Dinner / AFP) (Photo by ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)

TOPSHOT – Oregon Police wearing anti-riot gear march towards protesters through tear gas smoke during the 100th day and night of protests. (Photo by Allison Dinner / AFP) (Photo by ALLISON DINNER/AFP via Getty Images)

The state’s Human Rights Law, enacted in 1945, says that all individuals residing in New York have the right to an “equal opportunity to enjoy a full and productive life” without any discriminatory action regardless of race, sexual orientation, national origin or sex. In order to guarantee first responders’ “human rights,” the law allows police to seek triple the usual amount allowed for civil punishments, adding up to $200,000 per violation, or up to $50,000 if the injury was caused by a rioter, Fox News reported.

The Long Island Advocates for Police Accountability criticized the Legislature’s proposed bill Friday for making a chosen profession a category of human rights protections. “This bill would hijack the Human Rights Law and penalize ‘discrimination’ against a police officer more harshly than ‘discrimination’ against groups that have historically faced persecution and discrimination in our country,” the organization said during a press conference. (RELATED: Eleven Officers Reportedly Injured In New York City As Protests Turned Violent On MLK Day) 

The Legislature concluded that the law intends to protect a citizen’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble and prohibit violence which they argued “suppress[es] liberty.”

“This Legislature respects and indeed reveres the right of all Americans to peacefully assemble to petition the government and to freely express their views and convictions whatever they may be. These are the core constitutional rights that the members of this body have sworn to preserve, protect and defend,” the bill stated. “It is the intent of this Legislature in adopting this legislation to promote such rights by helping to ensure a secure and stable environment in which those rights may be peaceably exercised.”

“Violence directed at the rule of law and those who uphold it is intended to suppress liberty and should be deterred by all prudent means consistent with the Constitution of the United States of America and the State of New York.”

Officials in Detroit, Michigan, sued Black Lives Matter in December 2020 for damages, alleging that the riots “endangered the lives of police and the public.”