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Proposed Law Would Discourage Free Speech, Says ACLU of Indiana

The bill would allow organizations to be fined for people who get out of hand at protests.

STATE HOUSE--Your right to free speech could be at risk if the legislature passes a bill that fines protesters. Fines as high as $100,000 could go to groups that protest in Indiana if just one person causes damage or trespasses, said Katie Blair, ACLU of Indiana Director of Advocacy and Public Policy.

"This will affect everyone's 1st Amendment rights, especially those right now who are wanting to go out and make their voices heard," said Blair. 

She said she believes the bill is targeted to stifle speech, be it on the left or right, or any other kind. 

"Laws are already on the books for trespassing and damages of property. So, it's very clear that this bill is going after a person's right to free speech," she said.

The ACLU will be at the State House to protest the bill (SB 471). Blair said they are also encouraging Hoosiers to call the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, to let them know how they feel about it.

"Senate Bill 471 is part of a nationwide push by special interest groups working to suppress free speech," said Blair. She said the people pushing the legislation do not represent Hoosier voices or views.

"Legislators are using protection of "critical infrastructure" as a guise to chill free speech. A person cannot lawfully be prosecuted for using truthful information to sway public opinion. That is an attack on our constitutional rights - one that the ACLU of Indiana will resist."

PHOTO: Chris Davis/Emmis

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