03 Aug Nassau County Votes to Pass Bill That Will Allow Police Officers to Sue Protestors
A new bill allowing first responders, including police officers, to directly due protestors, passed on the evening of August 2, 2021. The bill allows first responders to sue anyone who they believe has harassed, injured, menaced or assaulted them while on duty. It also applies if the first responders believe they are targeted due to their occupation, regardless of whether they are in uniform. In addition, individuals may be charged up to $25,000 in civil penalties if accused of a violation. If a violation occurs during a “riot”, the limit extends to $50,000.
The controversy surrounding the bill raises concern for the rights of protestors. Nassau County Legislator Siela Bynoe worries that the “overly broad” criteria of violations may impede on an individual’s First Amendment Rights. Others say the bill is a misuse of the Human Rights Law, giving more power to institutions that oppressed people are meant to be protected from.
In the long term, the effects of the bill may discourage any form of protest altogether.