Lawmaker to propose bill that increases penalties for rioters

Updated: Feb. 17, 2021 at 8:45 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - State Rep. Allen Treadaway, R-Morris, plans to introduce legislation that would create new crimes and penalties for rioters.

“We’re seeing a very disturbing trend, where peaceful protesters are being hijacked, for whatever reason, and they’re turning into very violent mobs,” he explained.

Treadaway said he drafted the legislation after a riot in Birmingham last summer.

Portions of the legislation include:

  • A person who is arrested for knowingly participating in a riot would be placed on a 24-hour hold before becoming eligible for bail, and, upon conviction, would face a mandatory minimum sentence of 30 days in jail and an order of restitution. [Note: The 24-hour hold requirement in this and other sections will require passage of an accompanying constitutional amendment.]
  • A person who knowingly participates in the new crime of “Aggravated Riot,” which requires bodily or property damage to result, would also be held for 24 hours before becoming eligible for bail, and, upon conviction of the Class C felony, would face a mandatory minimum sentence of six months and an order of restitution.
  • Those convicted of Riot, Aggravated Riot, or Inciting a Riot would become ineligible to hold public office in Alabama.
  • The crime of Assault Against a First Responder in the first and second degrees are created and those arrested for the offenses are initially held for 24 hours before becoming bail-eligible. A First Degree conviction, which would be a Class B felony, results in at least one year in jail, a $15,000 fine, and an order of restitution, and a Second Degree conviction, classified as a Class C felony, carries a minimum six-month jail sentence, a $5,000 fine, and a restitution requirement.
  • Any government entity in Alabama that defunds a local law enforcement agency would lose eligibility for any state funding, grants, revenues, or other forms of aid. In addition, any entity that defunds a law enforcement agency would become civilly-liable for any violent crime that result from the action.
  • The crime of purposely blocking an Interstate would become a felony with accompanying fines and incarceration.

“For public safety, we have got to have the tools to put these folks in jail, hold them long enough that they don’t rejoin the fight, or the rioters or looters,” he said.

Eric Hall with Black Lives Matter Birmingham does not support the legislation.

“I personally believe that this particular bill, if it’s enacted, would be used against those who are using their first amendment rights to protest against injustice,” Hall said.

Treadaway plans to file the bill next week when leaders return to Montgomery for the legislative session.

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