While leaders of several cities and States have spent more time giving into demands from violent protesters, while ignoring the plight of their law-abiding citizens, at least one governor is taking measures to protect citizens.
Tennessee governor Bill Lee has just signed a bill that will impose harsh penalties to protesters who inhibit certain behaviors.
According to the bill, protesters who illegally camp on State property will face a Class E felony, which is punishable by up to 6 years in prison.
Those found guilty of a felony in Tennessee, would additionally lose the right to vote.
The bill will also enforce harsher penalties on those involved in violent riots, including a mandatory 45-day sentencing for aggravated assault against first responders and increased punishment for blocking highways access to emergency vehicles.
Fox News has the story:
Tennessee Republican Gov. Bill Lee has signed off on a bill that imposes harsher penalties for protesters who break certain laws during demonstrations.
The Volunteer State's General Assembly passed the measure last week, and Lee signed it into law without an announcement Thursday.
People who illegally camp on state property now face a Class E felony, punishable by up to six years in prison, instead of a misdemeanor.
Individuals found guilty of a felony in Tennessee also lose the right to vote.
In addition, the law requires that people convicted of aggravated rioting serve a mandatory 45-day sentence, raises the fine for blocking highway access to emergency vehicles, and increases the penatly for aggravated assault against a first responder to a Class C felony.
A Class C felony comes with a $15,000 fine and a mandatory minimum 90-day prison sentence.
After almost two months of sustained protests outside the state Capitol, the bill passed the GOP-lead General Assembly following a three-day special legislative session. Lawmakers also passed bills on COVID-19 liability immunity and telemedicine.
Lee and other Tennessee Republicans have defended the bill, pointing to fires that were set inside and outside a courthouse in May.
“I think what we saw was a courthouse on fire and businesses being broken into and vehicles being damaged. We saw lawlessness that needed to be addressed immediately,” Lee told reporters on Thursday.
While democrats are melting down over this new bill, claiming that it violates the Constitution, others point out that when you commit certain crimes, you are forfeiting certain rights.
CNN with more:
Signing of the bill comes as protesters have been camping outside the Tennessee Capitol in Nashville, demanding a meeting with the Republican governor to discuss racial inequality and police brutality since June, according to the Washington Post. Protesters are also asking for the removal of a Nathan Bedford Forrest bust at the State Capitol. Forrest was a slave trader and early Ku Klux Klan leader.
Campers would first be given a warning and those who refuse to leave would then be charged with a felony. Notably, convicted felons in Tennessee lose their right to vote, which could be a major blow to protesters amid a high-stakes election year.
Lee's signing of the bill comes just one week after the GOP-controlled General Assembly first passed the legislation. At the time, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the Senate Randy McNally, a Republican, touted the bill as a preventative measure against the forming of autonomous zones like the ones in other major cities.
"It is to prevent what has happened in other cities like Portland and Washington, DC," McNally said at a news conference after the measure passed. "If people, knowingly violate the law, knowingly thumb their nose at authority and don't do what authorities have requested they do, they should be charged with a serious crime."
The bill's sponsor, Republican House Majority Leader William Lamberth, said at the same news conference that the bill was to crack down on "criminal elements" and protect law enforcement officers.
"And then specifically on the criminal justice reform bill that cracks down on criminal elements out there that are unfortunately are making it very difficult for folks to even visit this capitol," Lamberth said.
The bill was part of a larger package of legislation signed by Lee that increases penalties for certain crimes like vandalism, disorderly conduct, inciting a riot and offenses to first responders. The new bill took effect immediately, according to The Tennessean.
"Anytime a law enforcement officer is assaulted I would agree that really is an assault on the state of Tennessee and all of our people, because that officer is really out there to protect and serve us. From whenever these bills are signed by the governor or go into law ... every officer can be certain they will be protected more than they are right now," Lamberth said.
Democrats would rather live in a world where everyone bows a knee before the outrage mob and innocent hard working Americans are punished due to the actions of violent rioters.
The Constitution does protect all law-abiding citizens, but felons forfeit those rights.