Ariz. bill to harshen penalties for crimes in protests draws backlash

Protester DeRon Stanton meditates near police officers in riot gear in downtown Phoenix on May 30, 2020, to honor the life of George Floyd, 46, who died under the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on Monday.

Arizona activists have renewed their focus and condemnation of a bill that would harshen penalties for various crimes committed during an unlawful assembly following the three guilty verdicts against former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

House Bill 2309, which passed the House on a party-line vote of 31-27 with two nonvotes, would create a new crime called “violent or disorderly assembly” and upgrade several misdemeanors including obstructing a road, pointing a laser at an officer, andcriminal damage between $250 and $1,000 into felonies when committed during such an assembly.

It would also enact a minimum of six months in jail for someone convicted of assaulting an officer, which is already considered aggravated assault under Arizona law.

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