LOCAL NEWS

Bill To Expand Penalty For Blocking Roads During Riots Hits Road Block In Legislature

Nov 17, 2020, 10:54 PM

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – A proposed bill cracking down on protestors who block traffic during a riot was heard in an online hearing by members of the Utah State Legislature on Tuesday.

The bill’s sponsor, Rep. Jon Hawkins, R-Pleasant Grove, said the important point is to distinguish between a riot and a protest.

“We support the Constitution in peaceful assemblies,” said Hawkins.

However, when those gatherings turn into riots is where this bill would come into play, tightening the belt on demonstrators.

“When those assemblies become violent in nature, we want to make sure we are protecting the public,” Hawkins said.

The bill, which is just in the beginning stages, would expand the penalty for roadway obstruction during a riot.

As introduced, it could mean a third-degree felony and up to five years behind bars.

“We may bump it down to be a Class A misdemeanor based on the feedback we received on the committee this morning,” said Hawkins, who went on to say the penalty will likely be less severe “I think it will be six months in jail and a fine of some degree.”

Officials with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office opposed the bill, saying Utah already has existing laws in place with Class B misdemeanor penalties, but they are based on the notion of “tumultuous” conduct — which is ambiguous for both law enforcement and citizens.

“Let’s go back and revisit this broad language of tumultuous conduct and if the objective here is to balance those two competing interests would mean the citizens’ right and the First Amendment right to protest and when that line is crossed over with violent behavior,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill.

Overall Hawkins’ goal is to deter violent behavior and stop demonstrators who are arrested from immediately being released from behind bars.

“Allow time for them to cool down a little bit and time for the riot to subside and peace to be restored,” he said.

Since the proposed bill was not unanimous in the hearing Tuesday, it will receive another hearing during the legislative session. Hawkins said the hope is by then there will be more of a consensus on what this bill does and how it will be effective in Utah.

KSL 5 TV Live

Top Stories

Local News

(Karah Brackin/KSL TV)...
Josh Ellis

Woman killed in crash involving semi on Highland Drive

A 74-year-old woman was killed in a crash involving a semi-truck on Highland Drive, according to police.
9 hours ago
(North Davis Fire District)...
Josh Ellis

Davis County home destroyed in early morning fire

Officials with the North Davis Fire District say a West Point home is "a total loss" after a Tuesday morning fire.
9 hours ago
(John Wilson/KSL TV)...
Josh Ellis

Motorcyclist killed in NB I-15 crash in Davis County; lanes reopened

A motorcyclist was killed in a crash that temporarily closed northbound Interstate 15 Tuesday morning.
9 hours ago
The aftermath of the 15 to 20 acre Magna fire. (Credit: Isaiah Salazar)...
Michael Houck

Firefighters battled against two smaller fires Sunday night

While fire crews battled against the Deuel Creek Fire in Centerville, other first responders handled two other blazes Sunday night.
1 day ago
An RV completely burns down on I-16, shutting down southbound traffic. (Credit: UDOT)...
Michael Houck

RV completely burns down on I-15

On Monday afternoon, an RV was engulfed in flames shutting down Interstate 15.
1 day ago
Refugees study for the US citizenship test....
Erin Cox

Rolling the dice for citizenship: Refugees join SLC English program for citizenship application

There’s a unique program here in Utah designed to help refugees and immigrants with their citizenship applications.
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

hand holding 3d rendering mobile connect with security camera for security solutions...
Les Olson

Wondering what security solutions are right for you? Find out more about how to protect your surroundings

Physical security helps everyone. Keep your employees, clients, and customers safe with security solutions that protect your workplace.
Many rattan pendant lights, hay hang from the ceiling.Traditional and simple lighting....
Lighting Design

The Best Ways to Style Rattan Pendant Lighting in Your Home

Rattan pendant lights create a rustic and breezy feel, and are an easy way to incorporate this hot trend into your home decor.
Earth day 2022...
1-800-GOT-JUNK?

How Are You Celebrating Earth Day 2022? | 4 Simple Ways to Celebrate Earth Day and Protect the Environment

Earth Day is a great time to reflect on how we can be more environmentally conscious. Here are some tips for celebrating Earth Day.
Get Money Online...

More Ways to Get Money Online Right Now in Your Spare Time

Here are 4 easy ways that you can get more money online if you have some free time and want to make a little extra on the side.
Lighting trends 2022...

Lighting Trends 2022 | 5 Beautiful Home Lighting Trends You Can Expect to See this Year and Beyond

This is where you can see the latest lighting trends for 2022 straight from the Lightovation Show at the Dallas World Trade Center.
What Can't You Throw Away in the Trash...

What Can’t You Throw Away in the Trash? | 5 Things You Shouldn’t Throw in to Your Trash Can

What can't you throw away in the trash? Believe it or not, there are actually many items that shouldn't be thrown straight into the trash.
Bill To Expand Penalty For Blocking Roads During Riots Hits Road Block In Legislature