Is ‘Support Peaceful Protest Act’ an answer to violent protests?

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Another night of violence and lawlessness was experienced in some of the streets of America on Saturday. Democrat-controlled cities on both coasts and in Kenosha, Wisconsin have spiraled out of control. Most of America remains peaceful and calm but it is the ugly scenes of destruction in downtown Seattle, Portland, Washington, D.C., and Kenosha that dominate news broadcasts.

Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian, a Democrat, admits to being caught flat-footed to the violence and unrest in that city. Who had Kenosha, Wisconsin on their bingo card for a nationally reported story about violent protests and riots? He says there were not enough law enforcement officers to handle the huge crowds of out-of-town protesters he claims flooded the city. Antaramian’s comments show how tone-deaf the governor’s initial refusal was about accepting help from the Trump administration to control and contain the violence. Surely the governor was aware of the size of the city’s police force.

“The problem in the city at the time was we had made requests to the state, and the state did bring the National Guard in. However, a huge number of outside individuals came into the city, including, as you saw, the militia. These are not folks that are from Kenosha. They all came from other places. I shouldn’t say all, but a good percentage came from other places,” Antaramian said.

“Because of that, we were basically in a situation that in the first two nights [was] a difficult situation to deal with. We had all sorts of different groups that came into the community to help the police department. That’s police officers, sheriffs from all over the state came to help out. National Guard came. However, we just, we did not have enough people in the first two nights,” he said.

We saw the threats of violence against Senator Rand Paul and his wife as they walked from the White House to a hotel two blocks away after the conclusion of the Republican convention. The violence continues in Washington, D.C., as seen Saturday night. D.C. law enforcement responded.

Chaos erupted outside the White House on Saturday following another night of Black Lives Matter protests that saw police clash with demonstrators, striking them with rubber bullets and detonating stun grenades, as they moved to clear out crowds.

Hundreds of protesters had gathered at Black Lives Matter Plaza to rally against police brutality and racial injustice, following another week of unrest triggered by the police shooting of black man Jacob Blake in Wisconsin last Sunday.

Members of the Metropolitan Police Department were out in force as demonstrators marched towards the White House chanting, ‘No cops, no KKK, no fascists’.

When law enforcement tells you to move, you should move.

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Rep. Jim Banks, a Republican from Indiana, introduced the ‘Support Peaceful Protest Act’ on Friday. Its goal is to stop the riots, looting, and vandalism that have occurred during the protests that turn violent. He hopes it will protect peaceful protesters, law enforcement officers, and bystanders that find themselves caught up in a bad situation. Banks proposes stripping unemployment benefits from those rioters receiving them, and that they pay restitution for damages.

The bill proposes that if an individual is convicted of a federal offense while at a protest in which police are present, they will have to ‘pay an order of restitution… that is equal to the cost of such policing activity, as determined by the court.’

Further, Banks proposes that those engaging in rioting, looting and arson should be stripped of federal benefits accessible during the COVID-19 crisis, such as the $600 per week unemployment assistance drawn from the CARES Act.

In an interview with WIBC, Banks says he believes a majority of rioters who intentionally disrupt protests are currently unemployed and receiving benefits.

‘Due to enhanced federal benefits, taxpayers are giving wages to jobless rioters that are destroying our communities. We need to cut them off from their funding and make them feel the full financial consequences of their actions,’ Banks stated.

He continued: ”Many of these people are not working. They have the time to show up every day at some of these violent protests like in Washington, D.C. and they’re getting $600 a week of unemployment to do it, and that’s got to stop.’

Will a bill passed in Congress stop the violence? Probably not – violent agitators don’t care about laws. If they are paid agitators, it is unlikely they care much about unemployment benefits if someone else is paying them. It’s the kind of action that Congress takes to make themselves feel good that they are doing something. Most members of Congress have been largely silent during this whole period of BLM marches and riots – both sides of the aisle. The Republican Party used to be vocal about law and order matters. Not so much anymore. In an election year when the president is running on a law and order platform, it would behoove Republicans to speak up and support law enforcement more consistently.

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