Demonstrators who block roads or use lasers or fireworks to impede law enforcement will face increased criminal charges under two bills sent to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott on Sunday and Monday.
House Bill 9 would increase the criminal penalty for individuals who obstruct roadways, while House Bill 2366 would increase criminal penalties for individuals who interfere with law enforcement or endanger officials.
“Law enforcement officers face dangerous situations every day in the name of public safety. During the riots last summer, we witnessed the use of lasers and fireworks against police, injuring both officers and peaceful protestors, and rioters across the country blocking roadways and preventing emergency vehicle access to hospitals,” Abbott told the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“That chaos won’t be tolerated in Texas,” he continued.
“We will ensure that these dangerous actions are punished to the fullest extent of the law. I thank the Legislature for passing the much needed protections for our law enforcement, peaceful protestors, and our communities in HB 9 and HB 2366, and look forward to signing both into law.”
HB 2366 would make the use of laser pointers against police a third-degree felony and a first-degree felony if the action resulted in “serious bodily injury,” according to the Austin American-Statesman.
Legislation cracking down on protestors for blocking roads PASSES in the Senate.
Peaceful protest doesn’t include blocking roadways & preventing emergency vehicle access. That chaos won’t be tolerated in Texas.
I will sign soon.
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) May 22, 2021
“We want to protect law enforcement as much as we can,” said Republican state Sen. Bryan Hughes, who sponsored the bill.
Democratic Texas state Sen. Borris Miles, a former police officer, opposed the measure until he researched laser pointers, according to the American-Statesman.
“There are some stronger lasers that can cause serious injury from a distance,” Miles said. “We should continue to protect all law enforcement.”
The use of commercial-grade fireworks to interfere with law enforcement would result in a second-degree felony. If the action results in serious injury to an officer, the culprit would face first-degree felony charges.
HB 9 makes it a state felony to knowingly block emergency vehicles using lights and sirens or impede access to hospitals or emergency medical care facilities.
The Texas state Senate voted to pass the bill without discussion, the American-Statesman reported.
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