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State Senate Votes to Crack Down on Potentially Violent Protests

AFP via Getty Images/Jewel SAMAD

The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that would make it a crime to organize a protest that turns violent. Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, Republican lawmakers say enhanced measures are needed. 

Under SB1142, rioting would be added to Arizona’s organized crime statutes. It would allow a protest organizer to be charged with racketeering even if they personally were not involved in the ensuing violence. Those convicted could also have their assets seized.

Lake Havasu Republican Sonny Borrelli sponsored the bill. He says it’s necessary to discourage rioting at public demonstrations, and push back against groups he claims pay protesters.

Democrats in the Senate, however, say the bill could be unconstitutional, have damaging effects on free speech, and entrap innocent bystanders.

The bill now goes to the House for its consideration.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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