On Inauguration Day, in Portland and at Berkeley as well as other cities, violent hard-left rioters using Black Bloc tactics have caused million in damages and they’ve hurt people. Arizona decided to be prepared.
Arizona Republican state senators passed legislation yesterday to seize assets of violent hard-left rioters. It’s a good idea but they might have gone too far and their only assets are probably backpacks.
The state senators said people are being paid to riot, which is likely true, but it would have to be proven. It appears to give police power to arrest anyone involved in a violent demonstration, it seems, before anything actually happens. If they conspire to riot, they could be arrested.
SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. Rioting will include damage to property.
SB 1142 doesn’t actually do a whole lot but simply add rioting to existing conspiracy and racketeering classifications and defines rioting thus: “A person commits riot if, with two or more other persons acting together, such person recklessly uses force or violence or threatens to use force or violence, if such threat is accompanied by immediate power of execution, which either disturbs the public peace or results in damage to the property of another person.”
The bill passed on a party line vote in the Senate, 17-13 and is heading over to the House.
Democrats are concerned innocent protesters will be swept up.
There is a question as to whether this is constitutional as written. It needs some work to protect protesters but it might be refined by the state House if it even passes.
Sen. John Kavanagh, R-Fountain Hills, said it is aimed at a very specific group of protesters.
“You now have a situation where you have full-time, almost professional agent-provocateurs that attempt to create public disorder,’’ he said.
“A lot of them are ideologues, some of them are anarchists,’’ Kavanagh continued. “But this stuff is all planned.’’
There’s something else: By including rioting in racketeering laws, it actually permits police to arrest those who are planning events. And Kavanagh, a former police officer, said if there are organized groups, “I should certainly hope that our law enforcement people have some undercover people there.’’
“Wouldn’t you rather stop a riot before it starts?’’ Kavanagh asked colleagues during debate. “Do you really want to wait until people are injuring each other, throwing Molotov cocktails, picking up barricades and smashing them through businesses in downtown Phoenix?’’
Sen. Sylvia Allen, R-Snowflake, said the new criminal laws are necessary.
“I have been heartsick with what’s been going on in our country, what young people are being encouraged to do,’’ she said.
She agreed with Quezada that there already are laws that cover overt acts. But Allen said they don’t work.
“If they get thrown in jail, somebody pays to get them out,’’ she said. “There has to be something to deter them from that.’’
The bill is aimed at the rioters from groups like The Revolutionary Communist Party and some of these groups that used Black Bloc.
What do you think?