The Kentucky Senate passed a bill on Thursday that would make it a crime to insult police officers and boost penalties for rioting.
The bill comes in reaction to racial justice protests in Louisville and across the state and country over the last year.
The bill would make it a Class B misdemeanor if someone “accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words, or by gestures or other physical contact, that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person.”
It also creates new protest-related crimes, requiring anyone charged with “rioting” to be held in jail for a minimum of 48 hours and making it a Class D felony to resist arrest during a ‘riot.’”
“This is a backhand slap. And I resent it, I personally resent it,” said Democratic Sen. Gerald Neal who represents a predominantly Black part of Louisville.
“Because you have power doesn’t make it wise to use it. Because you want to express your feeling doesn’t mean you have the answer. You don’t know what’s going on in my district.”
Six Republicans joined all Democrats in voting against the bill, which now heads to the House.