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A New York county on Monday passed a bill to allow police officers to sue protesters for harassment.
The bill, passed by the Nassau County legislature on Long Island, enhances the legal rights of police to shield themselves from attacks based on their occupation. County officials said they wanted to shore up support for their police following a year of anti-police activism and protests. The bill now goes to the desk of County Executive Laura Curran (D.), who issued a statement supportive of law enforcement but has not said whether she will sign the bill.
“I’m proud of the dedicated first responders who’ve made Nassau the safest County in America, and I will continue to stand against defunding the police. My Administration is committed to protecting the brave men and women of law enforcement who keep us safe,” Curran said in the statement.
The bill mandates steep penalties for discriminating against police officers, including a fine of $25,000. The fine doubles if the offense is connected with a riot.
“And because organized mob violence undermines the foundations of law, democracy and ordered liberty, and severely impairs the ability of citizens to engage in peaceful protest, such damages are trebled when the first responder is injured in the course of a riot,” the bill reads.
Anti-police activists decried the legislation, saying it was aimed at restricting the rights of protesters. “This bill is a clear act of retaliation against Black Lives Matter,” said Frederick Brewington, a New York attorney.
Independent Nassau County legislator Joshua Lafazan, who sponsored the bill, disagrees.
The bill will “protect Nassau County’s first responders, as they protect us,” Lafazan told the Washington Free Beacon. “The idea that this bill targets a specific group of people based on political ideology or race is outrageous.”
FBI data show that violence against police officers has risen in 2021, with a higher number of officers killed in action than during the same time period in 2020. In the wake of these data, Nassau County’s bill makes police officers a protected class, giving them greater legal rights to defend themselves from personal assaults and injury. Local police welcomed the legislation.
“The protections of our first responders, residents, and communities must always be a priority,” said a spokesman for Nassau police commissioner Patrick Ryder.