Legislators are proposing that law enforcement and judges shouldn’t have to live in fear or face retaliation for their chosen profession. The bill would add those two groups as protected classes against civil rights intimidation, along with race, color, ancestry, religion, and national origin.
Under the legislation, offenders would earn a Class D felony for injuring, threatening to injure, or coercing another person with the intent to unlawfully intimidate based on the belief or knowledge that the victim is a law enforcement member or judge. That level of punishment would also be applicable if someone were to damage, destroy, or deface another’s property based on that belief or knowledge. Class D felonies are two to twelve years’ prison time, and up to $5,000 in fines.
The bill was introduced by State Representative Jay Reedy (R-Erin) last month. In the wake of George Floyd’s death, law enforcement officials reported that over 2,000 officers were injured nationwide. Tennessee also faced issues with rioters throughout the summer, with cities like Murfreesboro and Nashville erupting with violence. Officers were assaulted as buildings were torched and vandalized, among other criminal acts.
Reedy didn’t respond to request for comment by The Tennessee Star by press time.
Reedy has also introduced a bill that would justify the use of deadly force in the event that another attempts to commit certain property offenses – arson, burglary, robbery, theft, trespassing, vandalism, aggravated animal cruelty – and clarify that displaying or brandishing a weapon doesn’t constitute deadly force. That bill has been assigned to the criminal justice subcommittee.
Reedy’s bill on expanding civil rights intimidation to include law enforcement and judges was passed on first consideration last week. Also last week, its companion bill in the Senate introduced by State Senator Bill Powers (R-Clarksville) was referred to the judiciary committee.
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