Kentucky bill that would criminalize insulting a cop draws condemnation
Kentucky has had numerous protests in response to the shooting of Breonna Taylor, an unarmed 26-year-old African-American woman and Louisville resident who was killed on March 13, 2020 while in bed during a police raid. Now, proponents of criminal justice reform — including the Kentucky American Civil Liberties Union — are speaking out against a Kentucky Senate bill that would make it a crime to insult or taunt a police officer.
The legislation calls for up to three months in jail and/or a $250 fine for anyone who "accosts, insults, taunts, or challenges a law enforcement officer with offensive or derisive words" or makes "gestures or other physical contact that would have a direct tendency to provoke a violent response from the perspective of a reasonable and prudent person." The bill, sponsored by Republican Kentucky State Sen. Danny Carroll, was passed by 7-3 in a Kentucky Senate committee.
The Kentucky ACLU has expressed vehement opposition to SB 211, denouncing as an "extreme bill" designed to "stifle dissent":
#SB211 is an extreme bill to stifle dissent. It’s so extreme it would make it a crime to say “insulting” or “offens… https://t.co/dUIO9zoaz9— ACLU of Kentucky (@ACLU of Kentucky) 1614915935.0
Corey Shapiro, legal director of the Kentucky ACLU, told the Louisvillle Courier Journal, "Verbally challenging police action — even if by insult or offensive language — is a cornerstone of our democracy. And the 1st Amendment protects people's ability to express themselves, even if it's using offensive words to the police."
Attorney Ken White, known for co-hosting the podcast, "All the President's Lawyers," has posted a Twitter thread on the bill, writing:
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