Police are Lobbying for State Anti-Protest Bills

Police officers, unions and lobbyists are supporting a trend of political backlash to racial justice advocates in at least 14 states this year.

This post was updated on August 16, 2021 - see bottom of page for details.

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Police officers, unions and lobbyists supported one or more anti-protest bills introduced in at least 14 states, since June 1, 2020.

Legislators who are current or former law enforcement officers sponsored anti-protest bills in at least 19 states.

State chapters of the Fraternal Order of Police (FOP)—a national police union—have supported bills in seven states (AZ, IA, ID, IN, KY, MO, OH). This includes bills that give immunity to drivers who injure or even kill people with their cars at protests or assemblies that police declare “unlawful.” (Florida HB 1, Iowa SF 342, Missouri SB 66).

Legislators affiliated with the FOP union sponsored bills in three additional states (AL, GA, OK).

These figures are probably underestimates, due to lack of lobbying disclosure in many states, and dissimilar reporting requirements.

June, 2020 was used as a starting point because it corresponds with nationwide protests following the murder of George Floyd. But this legislative trend pre-dates 2020, as the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law (ICNL) has tracked.

As the Washington Post reported, a report by PEN America identified “at least 100 proposals in 33 states” from June 1, 2020 through May 15, 2021.

Reporting by The Intercept and Salon have more context on the support of law enforcement officers and unions for recent anti-protest bills.

Campaign Finance:

Data published as part of a Greenpeace USA report found that sponsors of anti-protest legislation in many states received $343,602 from political action committees of police and corrections officer organizations and unions, in the 2019-2020 election cycle.

The Greenpeace report identified top corporate contributors to the sponsors of state anti-protest legislation, with AT&T, Koch Industries, Comcast, Berkshire Hathaway, and Duke Energy taking the top five spots.

(Disclosure: I contributed research to this report).


Police supported one or more bills in 14+ states:

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas - law passed.

  • Connecticut

  • Florida - law passed.

  • Iowa - law passed.

  • Idaho

  • Indiana - law passed.

  • Kentucky

  • Missouri

  • Nebraska

  • Ohio

  • Texas - law passed

  • Wisconsin

Full details below.

Legislators with law enforcement background sponsored one or more bills in 19+ states

  • Alabama

  • Arizona

  • Arkansas - law passed.

  • Connecticut

  • Florida - law passed.

  • Georgia

  • Iowa - law passed.

  • Indiana - law passed.

  • Minnesota

  • North Carolina

  • North Dakota

  • Nevada

  • New York

  • Ohio

  • Oklahoma - law passed.

  • Rhode Island

  • Tennessee - law passed.

  • Washington

  • Wisconsin

Full details below.


Police Support for Bills, by State

Most of the bill descriptions below quote the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL) Protest Law Tracker. ICNL has more detailed descriptions of each bill.


Alabama

AL HB 445

Expanded definition of "riot," "incitement to riot," and new penalties for protesters who block traffic (ICNL)

Status: indefinitely postponed on May 5. Session adjourned on May 17.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Allen Treadaway (primary) is a retired Birmingham assistant police chief (Essence)

  • Russell Bedsole (co-sponsor) worked as a captain in the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office

  • Allen Farley (co-sponsor) professional experience is in law enforcement and includes working for the Bessemer Police Department and the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. He graduated from the FBI National Academy in 2004.

  • Mac McCutcheon (co-sponsor) worked for the Huntsville Police Department. He has been a member of the Alabama Peace Officers and the Fraternal Order of Police.

  • Rex Reynolds (co-sponsor) worked in the Huntsville Department of Public Safety

  • David Standridge (co-sponsor) is a retired captain in the Blount County Sheriff's Department.


Arizona

AZ HB 2309

New penalties for “violent or disorderly assembly” and for protesters who block traffic or "deface" monuments (ICNL)

Status: approved by House, bill has awaited Senate action since April 20. Legislature adjourned on May 30. Special legislative session begins on June 10.

Supported by:

  • Fraternal Order of Police, AZ State Lodge

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Bret Roberts (primary) served as detention officer for the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office

  • Joseph Chaplik (co-sponsor) volunteered with the Maricopa County Sheriffs Memorial Fund and is a member of the US Marshals Posse

  • John Kavanaugh (co-sponsor) was a police officer for 20 years, in New York and New Jersey.

  • Mark Finchem (co-sponsor) worked for the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety for 21 years. He was affiliated with the Oath Keepers.


Arkansas

AR HB 1508 - LAW

New penalties for protesters on state property and those who disturb official meetings (ICNL)

Status: Law. Signed by governor on April 14.

Supported by...:

Sponsor Rep. Brown says the bill had the “endorsement, no objections of, approval of”..:

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Keith Slape (co-sponsor) was the elected Sheriff of Newton County for six terms. Slape is a former president of the Arkansas Sheriffs Association

  • Jim Wooten (co-sponsor) served as a state trooper for the State of Arkansas

  • Danny Watson (co-sponsor) served the Hope Police Department and Arkansas Highway Police from 1985 to 1999.


Connecticut:

CT HB 6455

New penalty for protests that disturb the legislature (ICNL)

Status: in House committee, last action was April 15. Session ends June 9.

Supported by:

  • Council 4, AFSCME, representing “2,000 municipal police officers”

  • CT Police Chiefs Association

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Senator Saud Anwar (co-sponsor) has consulted for the FBI’s Multi-Cultural Advisory Committee


Florida

FL HB 1 - LAW

Expanded definition of “riot” and new penalties for protesters (ICNL)

As reported by the Orlando Sentinel, the law “grants civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road.”

Status: Law. Signed by governor on April 19, at the Polk County Sheriffs Office)

Supported by:

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Chuck Brannan (co-sponsor) worked as a Chief Investigator with the Baker County Sheriff's Office


Georgia

GA SB 171

Restrictive permitting requirements, and heightened penalties for “unlawful assembly," blocking traffic, and defacing property (ICNL)

Status: dead, session ended March 11.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Randy Robertson (primary) founded Perfect Policing, LLC; served as the Director of Homeland Security in Columbus, GA; served in the Muscogee County Sheriff's Office; served as the president of the Fraternal Order of Police, Georgia State Lodge.

  • Chuck Payne (primary) worked as a juvenile probation and parole officer at the Georgia Department of Juvenile Justice.


Iowa

IA SF 342 - LAW

Heightened Penalties for Protesters Convicted of "Riot," "Unlawful Assembly," or Blocking Traffic, and Immunity for Drivers Who Injure Them (ICNL)

Amended omnibus package includes new misdemeanor penalties for blocking roadways and participating in unlawful assemblies, class D felonies for being present during a “riot,” provisions related to qualified immunity, police salaries, restricting disciplinary options for police misconduct, and many other provisions.

As approved by the Iowa House in mid-April, the Iowa Gazette reported that SF 342 would “offer qualified immunity to law enforcement, protect drivers who run into protesters blocking a highway from civil liability, withhold state funds from communities that defund the police and add or increase penalties for a variety of crimes.”

Status: Law. Signed by Governor on June 17 while “surrounded by police officers.”

Supported by:

  • Iowa Peace Officers Association

  • Iowa State Police Association

  • Iowa Fraternal Order of Police

  • Iowa State Patrol Supervisors Association

  • Iowa State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Association

  • Teamsters Local 238

Undecided position, after initial support:

  • Iowa Police Chief Association (withdrew support on April 15, re-registered as undecided)

IA HF 698

Predecessor to SF 342 omnibus package, above.

Supported by:

  • Iowa State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Association

  • Iowa Police Chief Association

Undecided positions:

  • Iowa State Police Association

  • Iowa Peace Officers Association

IA SF 6

Predecessor to SF 342 omnibus package, above.

Supported by:

  • Iowa Police Chief Association

Undecided positions:

  • Iowa State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Association

  • Iowa State Police Association

  • Iowa Peace Officers Association

  • State Police Officers Council

  • Iowa Dept. of Corrections

IA HF 430

Formerly HSB 142.

Heightened penalties for protesters who block streets and sidewalks (ICNL)

Status: re-referred to committee on April 15, after stalling. Session extended past May 12.

Supported by:

  • Iowa State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Association

Undecided positions: 

  • Iowa Police Chiefs Association

  • Iowa Peace Officers Association

IA SF 534

Heightened penalties for protesters convicted of "riot," "unlawful assembly," or blocking traffic, and immunity for drivers who injure them (ICNL)

Formerly SF 497.

Status: Amendment filed on March 25. Session extended past May 12.

Supported by: no registered supporters.

Undecided positions:

  • Iowa State Sheriffs' & Deputies' Association

  • Iowa State Police Association

  • Iowa Dept. of Public Safety

  • State Police Officers Council

  • Iowa Dept. of Corrections

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Senator Dan Dawson (primary co-sponsor of initial bill, SF 497) worked in the Pottawattamie County Sheriff’s Office and the Council Bluffs Police Department


Idaho

ID HB 195

Attempt to increase penalties for protests near private homes, in reaction to a protest outside the home of the primary sponsor. (Associated Press and Idaho Press.)

Status: defeated in House. Session ended April 30.

Supported by:

  • Idaho Sheriffs Association

  • Idaho Fraternal Order of Police

    (Feb 17 House Judiciary Committee hearing)

  • "Chiefs of Police, ID Prosecuting Attorneys Association, ID Sheriffs Association, and the Fraternal Order of Police" (KTVB)

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Greg Chaney (co-sponsor) worked with Nampa Police Department


Indiana

IN SB 187 - LAW

Focused on damage to monuments, amended to include new penalties for “riot” if the offense results in property damage or injury

Status: Law. Signed by governor on April 22.

Supported by:

  • Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, via RBK Legal Group's Ed Merchant (35:20)

  • Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council, Dave Powell (23:30)

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Jack Sandlin (primary) worked in the Indianapolis Police Department for over 20 cumulative years

IN SB 198

New misdemeanors for “financing an unlawful assembly” (ICNL)

Status: died with close of legislative session on April 29.

Supported by:

  • Indiana Fraternal Order of Police, via RBK Legal Group's Ed Merchant (1:50:28)

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Aaron Freeman (co-sponsor) was a reserve deputy sheriff and Marion County deputy prosecutor.

  • Jack Sandlin (primary) worked in the Indianapolis Police Department for over 20 years

Kentucky

KY SB 211

Mandatory minimum penalties for numerous offenses associated with protests, and a ban on “camping” on state property (ICNL)

Status: died when legislative session ended on March 31.

Supported by:


Minnesota

MN SF 1285

New penalties for protesters who block traffic (ICNL)

Status: died, no hearings. Session ends May 17.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

MN HF 1967

New penalties for protesters who block traffic (ICNL)

Status: died, no hearings. Session ends May 17.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Paul Novotny (primary) worked as a police officer in Princeton, and was a deputy in the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office

  • Brian Johnson (primary) graduated from Hibbing Area Vocational Technical Institute with an A.A.S. in law enforcement

Missouri

MO SB 26 (replaced by a substitute bill)

Heightened penalties for blocking roads (ICNL).

Status: Dead.

SB 26 was replaced with a substitute bill in a joint House & Senate conference committee on May 13.

As noted by ICNL, “This bill received later amendments that removed entirely the provisions related to ‘unlawful traffic interference’.”

The info on police support—below—corresponds with the original version of the bill, which included new penalties for blocking roads.

Supported by:

  • St. Louis Police Officers Association

  • Columbia Police Officers Association

    The bill was also supported by lobbyist Mark Bruns of Bruns & Associates, whose 2021 lobbying clients included the Kansas Fraternal Order of Police, Missouri Fraternal Order of Police, and St. Louis Police Officers Association

MO SB 66

New penalties for protesters, and shields for those who commit violence against them (ICNL)

Status: died when the legislative session ended.

Supported by:

  • Missouri Fraternal Order of Police

  • St. Louis Police Officers Association

  • Kansas City Fraternal Order of Police (Associated Press)


North Carolina

NC HB 805

Heightened penalties for “riot” and related offenses (ICNL)

Status: passed out of House, referred to Senate Rules and Operations committee on May 11. Session ends July 30.

Supported by:

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Charles Miller (primary) is an active deputy chief of the Brunswick County sheriff's office

  • Allen McNeill (primary) worked in the Randolph County Sheriff's Office

  • Mike Clampitt (co-sponsor) worked as the House Sergeant at Arms

  • John Faircloth (co-sponsor) worked as chief of police in multiple departments

  • Dudley Greene (co-sponsor) was a sheriff of McDowell County and chief deputy with the Avery County Sheriff's Office.

  • Carson Smith (co-sponsor) was sheriff of Pender County

NC SB 300

Heightened Penalties for “riot” (ICNL)

Status: Passed by Senate with amendments on May 12 and referred to House Rules committee. Session ends July 30.

Supported by…:

According to the North Carolina Association of Chiefs of Police (emphasis added) on May 10:

Several groups put forward reform recommendations late last year, including NCACP, the N.C. Sheriffs Association… […] SB 300 incorporates many of these recommendations and is the most comprehensive bill on these subjects. The bill’s primary sponsor, Sen. Danny Britt, consulted with these stakeholders in the current formulation of the bill, and the current version is supported by NCACP, the N.C. Sheriffs Association, and the N.C. Conferences of District Attorneys.

According to the John Locke Foundation’s Carolina Journal on May 11:

“We’ve worked closely with the Police Chiefs’ Association, the Police Benevolence Association, the Sheriffs’ Association, the Conference of DAs, the ACLU, the North Carolina Justice Center, the John Locke Foundation, and Americans for Prosperity,” said Sen. Danny Britt, R-Columbus, a primary sponsor of the measure. “They have all had input into the bill. We’ve worked to have a pretty general consensus on this and it only took us 40 versions and about 10 amendments to get here, but we’ve got us in a good place.”

According to FOX 8,

“Senate Bill 300 has been in the works since the beginning of this week and Britt says will continue to get tweaked with help from the Sheriff’s Association and the Benevolent Association.”

NC H 333

New penalties for campus protesters (ICNL)

Status: died after not advancing before bill crossover day. Session ends July 30.

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Dudley Greene (co-sponsor) was the sheriff of the McDowell County Sheriff's Office, the chief detective/chief deputy with the Avery County Sheriff's Office, and an agent with North Carolina Alcohol Law Enforcement

  • Allen McNeill (co-sponsor) worked for the Randolph County Sheriff's Office

  • Carson Smith (co-sponsor) served as Emergency Management Director for Pender county, before becoming a sheriff in 2002.


North Dakota

ND HB 1240

Restitution penalty for offenses related to “riot” (ICNL)

Status: died when session ended on April 28.

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Pat Heinert (primary) was sheriff in Burleigh County, North Dakota for 12 years


Nebraska

NE LB 111

Broad new penalties for “riot”-related offenses and disruptive protests (ICNL)

Status: in committee since early January, session ends June 10.

Supported by:


Nevada

NV AB 168

New felony penalties for unlawful protests and protests that block traffic, as well as penalties for protest funders and organizers (ICNL)

Status: dead, did not advance in committee. Session ends June 1.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Philip P.K. O'Neill (primary) worked as a division chief with the Nevada Department of Public Safety and as a consultant with the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, among other affiliations


New York

NY A 5121 / S 04989

Heightened penalties for “incitement to riot” (ICNL)

Status: stalled in committee since Feb, no session adjourn date

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Michael Reilly (primary) was an officer with the New York City Police Department

NY A 11069 / S 08974

Heightened penalties for riot and incitement to riot (ICNL)

Status: stalled in committee since 2020, no session adjourn date.

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Fred Akshar (co-sponsor) worked in law enforcement for 15 years, at the Chenango County Sheriff's Office and the Broome County Sheriff's Office.


Ohio

OH HB 109

Heightened penalties for blocking traffic and other conduct during protests, and new liability for organizations involved in protests (ICNL)

Status: heard in committee on April 22. No session adjourn date.

Supported by:

  • Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio

  • Ohio Fire Chiefs' Association

  • Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Cindy Abrams (primary) was a police officer in the Cincinnati Police Department

  • Sharon Ray (co-sponsor) worked as a bailiff, and probation officer, with Wadsworth Municipal Court

OH HB 22

New Penalties For Protesters Who "Taunt" Police (ICNL)

Status: 4th hearing took place in House Criminal Justice committee on April 22.

Supported by:

  • Buckeye State Sheriffs' Association

  • Columbus Division of Police

  • Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio

  • Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

  • Ohio State Highway Patrol

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Jeff LaRe (primary) has a background in law enforcement

  • Cindy Abrams (co-sponsor) was a police officer in the Cincinnati Police Department

  • Gary Click (co-sponsor) was previously a chaplain for law enforcement

OH SB 41

Charging protesters for the cost of property damage and the cost of law enforcement to respond to a protest (ICNL)

Status: heard in committee on Mar 2. No session adjourn date.

Supported by:

  • Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

OH SB 16 (language heavily amended on June 2)

New penalties for protesters who block traffic, and for protest funders and organizers (ICNL). This description does not reflect amendments made

Status: Approved by Senate on June 2 after amendments removed some of the more controversial language. Referred to House on June 7. No session adjourn date.

Supported by:

  • Bellefontaine Chief of Police

  • Buckeye State Sheriff’s Association (see Sen. Schaffer’s Feb 2. sponsor testimony)

  • Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio

  • Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police

  • Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association

  • Police and Fire Retirees of Ohio

  • Troopers for a Safe Ohio (see Sen. Schaffer’s Feb 2. sponsor testimony)

    Note: the groups above all supported the original language in SB 16, before the Senate amendments were made.


Oklahoma

OK HB 1674 - LAW

Penalties for protesters who block traffic, immunity for drivers who hit protesters, and liability for organizations that work with protesters (ICNL)

Status: Law. Signed by governor on April 21.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Justin Humphrey (co-sponsor) served as vice president of his local chapter of the Fraternal Order of Police

OK HB 1822

Restrictions on protests near the state capitol (ICNL)

Status: dead, vote failed, motion expired Apr 22. Session ends May 28.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Darrell Weaver (primary) served 28 years in law enforcement, including nine years as Director of the Oklahoma Bureau of Narcotics.


Rhode Island

RI SB 404

Mandatory penalties for protesters who block traffic (ICNL)

Status: Committee recommended measure be held for further study on Apr 8. No session adjourn date.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Elaine Morgan (primary) was elected Hopkinton Town Sergeant for three terms


Tennessee

TN HB 8005 / SB 8005 - LAW

Heightened penalties for “inconvenient” protests and protest camps on state property (ICNL)

Status: Law. Signed by governor on April 20.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • William Lamberth (primary) was Assistant District Attorney for Sumner County

  • Bud Hulsey (co-sponsor) is a former police officer

  • Clay Doggett (co-sponsor) worked as a correctional officer and a sheriff's deputy

TN SB 0843 / HB 0513

Heightened penalties for protesters who block sidewalks and streets (ICNL)

Status: deferred for summer study on May 4. Session ended May 6.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:


Texas

TX HB 9 - LAW

Felony penalties for anyone who “prevents the passage of an authorized emergency vehicle…that is operating the vehicle ’s emergency audible or visual signal.”

The bill was framed as an effort to keep a pathway clear for ambulances—an obvious and vital emergency priority (See Texas Tribune and Austin American-Statesman.).

Unfortunately, the new law might encourage police to arrest and charge people with felonies and ten-day minimum jail sentences for blocking police vehicles after they arbitrarily turn on lights or sirens.

Status: Law. Signed by governor on June 1.

Supported by:

  • Houston Police Officers Union

  • Dallas Police Association

  • Texas Municipal Police Association

  • Game Warden Peace Officer Association

TX SB 912

New restitution penalty for those convicted of a “riot” (ICNL)

Status: Did not pass before legislative session ended on May 31. Special legislative session is expected in the summer of 2021, unknown if this bill will be re-considered.

Supported by:

  • Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas (CLEAT)

  • Dallas Police Association

  • Game Warden Peace Officers Association

  • Houston Police Officers' Union

  • San Antonio Police Department

  • San Antonio Police Officers Association

  • Sheriffs Association of Texas

  • Texas Municipal Police Association

  • Texas Police Chiefs Association

    (May 5 House Homeland Security and Public Safety committee hearing)

    (April 19 Senate State Affairs committee hearing)


Washington

WA SB 5310

Steep penalties for protesters who block traffic, for protest organizers, and an expansive new “riot” offense (ICNL)

Status: died when session ended on April 25.

Supported by: unknown

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Jeff Holy (primary) was a police officer with the Spokane Police Department


Wisconsin

SB 296

Broad new definition of “riot” (ICNL)

Status: Introduced and referred to committee on April 8. No session adjourn date.

Supported by:

  • Badger State Sheriffs’ Association

  • Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association

Sponsors affiliated with Law Enforcement:

  • Van H. Wanggaard (primary) worked for the Racine Police Department, was security officer of Racine Unified School District, was a member of the Racine Junior Deputy Sheriffs Association, and other affiliations.


This post will be updated as more information becomes available.

Thanks to the Piper Fund for compensating me for this research!

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UPDATE NOTES:

August 16, 2021: I added information from public records related to Missouri SB 26.

May 10, 2021: I added information from a report published by Greenpeace USA, and a sentence on police support for hit-and-run immunity bills in IA & MO.

May 11, 2021: I added a link an article in The Intercept by Alleen Brown, which featured research from this post

May 12, 2021: I added info on Florida Sheriffs Association, and the hit & run immunity provision in Florida’s HB 1.

May 24, 2021: I added info on Texas SB 912. I updated the status of bills in Alabama, Iowa, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio. I updated the image to include Texas.

May 27, 2021: I added two more police groups supporting Ohio SB 16, as disclosed in state Senator Tim Schaffer’s testimony on Feb. 2.

June 7, 2021: I added Ohio HB 22, an update on the changes to Ohio SB 16, updates based on the adjournment of legislative sessions in Arizona and Texas, a status update on Iowa SF 243, and a link to the Salon article by Jon Skolnik.

June 21, 2021: I updated details on Iowa SF 342, after it was signed by Gov. Reynolds.

July 8, 2021: I updated the image to reflect the law passed in Iowa.