A Utah Police officer is charging a 19-year-old woman with a hate crime for “stomping on a ‘Back the Blue’ sign” while “smirking in an intimidating manner,” The Salt Lake Tribune reported on July 9th. The woman could face up to a year in prison or a fine of up to $2,500 for allegedly destroying stolen property “in a manner to attempt to intimidate law enforcement.”
On June 21st, a federal judge dismissed lawsuits filed against then-President Donald Trump and other federal officials who were being sued for violating the rights of protestors last June. After a group of protestors were forcibly removed from Lafayette Park in Washington, D.C. on June 1, 2020, the ACLU of D.C., Black Lives Matters, and others filed suit against Trump, then-Attorney William Barr, and other federal officials alleging that they conspired to violate demonstrators right to protest when they cleared the park to allow Trump to pose for a photo op in front of a nearby historic church.
After the U.S. Park Police (USPP) led law enforcement to forcibly shut down a mostly peaceful protest on Lafayette Square in Washington, D.C., an hour before a city-wide curfew on June 1st, 2020, the protestors and the press have pushed for answers about who was responsible for the decision. More than a year later, the Department of Interior has published a report with some answers.
On June 7th, a Michigan federal court dismissed a First Amendment challenge filed against the city of Detroit by a group of anti-abortion protesters. The case offers an interesting look at how courts balance public safety concerns against the right to protest.
Since Florida Governor Ron. DeSantis signed the “Combating Public Disorder” act into law this past April, civil liberties groups across the country have questioned its constitutionality. Now, two separate groups have sought to challenge the law in federal court.
On April 19th, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed into law H.B. 1, new legislation that includes a collection of amendments and additions to existing Florida statutes concerning criminal charges for violent protests. The legislation enhances penalties for people who commit crimes during a riot and gives the state the power to approve funding of local budgets, particularly in regards to funding law enforcement.
While there may exist some disagreement as to whether raising penalties for crimes associated with rioting violates the First Amendment, there is at least one provision in the Kentucky bill that is explicitly unconstitutional.
Arizona lawmakers are considering a bill, HB 2309, that would heighten the penalties for a number of charges associated with protests, and create a new charge for behavior deemed “violent or disorderly assembly.”