Businesses boarded up during riots
(PHOTO: Kurt Darling/WIBC)

State Lawmakers Set Aside Bill To Enhance Penalties For Rioting

INDIANAPOLIS — The riots that took place in several Indiana cities over the summer are on the minds of a few of your state lawmakers in Indianapolis.

State Sen. Jim Tomes, a Republican from Evansville, have helped authored a bill that would stiffen the penalties for people in Indiana arrested for rioting. Under the bill, it would make it a felony if seven or more people are involved in rioting and someone gets injured, or if property damage totals at least $750.

It would also allow cities or governments to fire employees and take away their pension who are involved in rioting.

Finally, it would make it so that blocking traffic during a protest illegal, unless the blocking of traffic is authorized by the government entity that has issued a permit for a public protest to take place.

“From what we’ve seen yesterday (at the U.S. Capitol), from what we’ve seen this past summer, I want to see to it that here in Indiana we’re not in the position that we experience the misfortunes other parts of the country have endured,” Tomes said to WISH-TV.

Don’t expect to hear much more about the bill. It will not be getting a committee hearing this session, according to State Sen. Mike Young, the chairman of the Committee on Corrections and Law Enforcement.

“After reviewing this bill, I decided that I would not put it on the schedule to be heard in committee,” he said. “The reason behind my decision is between the authors of the bill and myself.”

Jennifer Drobac is a law professor at Indiana University. She told WISH-TV senators are right not to take up the bill.

“My feeling is it raises concern,” Drobac said. Here’s why: We already have laws against looting, vandalism, violence, etc. This law enhances those and adds additional penalties and actually creates some ambiguity that I am extremely concerned about.”

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