State Rep. Allen Treadaway (R-Morris) on Wednesday announced that he will introduce legislation to create new crimes and penalties for individuals who incite or participate in riots.
The legislation, which can officially be introduced as soon as this coming Tuesday, would also provide additional protections for police officers and other first responders when riots take place.
Treadaway, who recently retired as Birmingham Police Department assistant chief following a 31-year career on the force, said in a statement that he began drafting the legislation this past summer after a protest in downtown Birmingham became a violent riot that resulted in damage and burglaries for multiple businesses, the vandalization of public property, and injuries to bystanders.
“Because the freedom of speech is so important, our founding fathers made it the first enumerated right in the U.S. Constitution, but when protest turns to violence, that liberty no longer applies,” Treadaway stated.
“We must protect Alabama businesses, public property, and first responders from the kind of mob rule that took over the streets of Birmingham this summer, and my legislation establishes a firm first step toward achieving that goal,” he continued.
Among the provisions of Treadaway’s legislation are as follows:
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.
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.
The aforementioned 24-hour hold requirements in the proposal would require the passage of a constitutional amendment.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn