COLUMBUS— State Reps. Cindy Abrams (R-Harrison) and Sara Carruthers (R-Hamilton) today announced the introduction of House Bill 109, legislation that creates new criminal offenses to combat rioting, looting, and violence in Ohio.
“This proposed legislation in no way infringes on the constitutional rights of Ohioans to freely speak and peacefully assemble,” said Abrams. “But it does say that when misconduct occurs, when the law is broken, those responsible will be held accountable.”
The Ohio Law and Order Act creates the following offenses:
- Riot assault for recklessly causing physical harm to another person during a riot, punishable by a fifth degree felony or a fourth degree felony if the action is against a peace officer
- Riot vandalism for recklessly causing harm to government property, including a tomb, monument, or gravestone, punishable by a fifth degree felony
- Bias motivated intimidation for maliciously harming a person or property based on the victim’s status as a first responder, punishable by a third degree felony
In addition, the legislation allows peace officers to bring civil suits against persons participating in a riot and increases the penalties for disorderly conduct when the offender hinders the movement of people if the violation occurs during a riot or illegal protest.
“The core message of law-abiding demonstrators is overlooked when vandalism, looting and violence occur,” said Carruthers. “This common-sense bill embraces our First Amendment right to peacefully protest while supporting law enforcement and protecting our communities.”
The bill awaits referral to a House committee.