Michael Cardinal, FISM News
A county near New York City has passed a bill that will allow police officers to sue protestors who harass or injure them while on duty, giving them legal rights as a protected class.
This new Nassau County piece of legislation gives police the right to seek legal protection against discrimination and hate crimes that are related to their profession. Officers can seek $25,000 for each incident, with the amount doubling to $50,000 if the violation happens during a riot.
The bill reads that this law is needed because “the recent widespread pattern of physical attacks and intimidation directed at the police has undermined the civil liberties of the community at large.” It later adds further rational for the bill saying:
No law enforcement officer should be subjected to actual or threatened physical assault and abuse in the performance of his or her duties – not only because police officers are human beings deserving of respect, dignity and equal protection of law, but also because they are the indispensable first line of defense for everyone’s fundamental civil and human rights.
According to CBS New York, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran made a statement praising the legislation following the 12-6 passing of 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. There were many speakers today who questioned this legislation. Now that it has been passed by the Legislature, I will be making an inquiry to the Attorney General’s Office to review and provide some advice.
The scene at the courthouse was contentious as many citizens who opposed the bill showed up in an attempt to deter it’s approval. Video shows the meeting had to be stopped several times to bring order to the proceedings as those in the audience hurled insults at the legislators and police officers.
Several civil rights organizations including the ACLU have condemned the bill saying that it would infringe on citizens first amendment rights. Regional ACLU Director Tracey Edwards said that the bill disrespected the recent movement against police discrimination and put police officers “above all of those people who fought during the Civil Rights movement.”
The legislation was originally proposed by members of the Democratic caucus, who later attempted to pull the bill from consideration after it received backlash. However, Republican members of the legislation, refused to allow this to happen after it had received tremendous support by those in law enforcement.