OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — A bill that would impose harsher penalties on protesters who loot, riot or commit other crimes has received a chilly reception from a Nebraska legislative committee.
Some critics of the bill argued Wednesday that it would infringe on free-speech rights and punish people who gather peacefully.
The measure was modeled after a recently passed Tennessee law and was introduced in response to last year’s Black Lives Matter protests in Omaha and Lincoln that led to property damage and one death. It would create felony charges for people who damage or spray-paint the law enforcement property, throw bodily fluids or aim laser pointers at an officer, or knowingly participate in a riot where someone is seriously hurt, among other actions.