FRANKFORT, Ky. — Sen. Danny Carroll (R, Benton) told his colleagues Thursday that he wouldn’t apologize for Senate Bill 211, a bill he's said aims to deter riot-based crimes.
“This state was completely disheveled by what happened in Louisville," he said. "We can’t let that happen again."
What You Need To Know
- The Kentucky Senate has passed Senate Bill 211, which aims to make taunting or insulting a police officer a crime
- The bill would broaden disorderly conduct to include the use of words that would have a "direct tendency to provoke a violent response"
- Republicans claim the bill is not design to stop or discourage peaceful protest
- Opponents of the measure raised concerns of constitutionality as the bill may limit free speech
Among other changes, the bill stipulates that disorderly conduct would include insulting or taunting a police officer with offensive words that would have a "direct tendency to provoke a violent response."
“I will not support, nor condone, nor tolerate anyone’s right to riot and terrorize, assault, destroy, abuse,” Carroll said.
Opponents have raised concerns that the legislation limits free speech. Carroll claimed the bill is not designed to stop peaceful protests.
Senate Democrats voted against it.
“The message he’s sending is very loud and clear about if you engage in a protest rally from now on, you do so at your own peril,” said Sen. Reginald Thomas (D, Lexington).
Some of the “no” votes on the measure came from Republicans, concerned about the section on disorderly conduct.
“Louisville deserves more and our police officers deserve more, but what I do worry about is page 15 subsection E to section 12, which is crafted too broadly, I believe, to make this bill constitutional,” said Sen. Julie Raque-Adams (R, Louisville).
Carroll said he plans to work with the House to change that section so that it would read, "While engaged in direct interaction with a law enforcement officer, accosts, insults, taunts or challenges a law enforcement officer using abusive, indecent, profane or vulgar language used as an instrument of assault and that serves no legitimate purpose or by gestures or other physical contact, all of which would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent law enforcement officer."
SB 211 passed the Senate by a vote of 21 to 11 and advances next to the House, where Republicans hold a super-majority.