Texas Gov. Greg Abbott unveiled a series of legislative proposals in a press conference in Dallas on Thursday that would make the state’s penalties for rioters and their organizational and financial backers a lot stronger. One of the proposals includes a mandatory six-month jail sentence for anybody convicted of striking a law enforcement officer.
“Today, we are announcing more legislative proposals to do even more to protect our law enforcement officers as well as do more to keep our community safe,” said Abbott at a press conference announcing his plans. The governor emphasized that the legislative proposals will not prevent people from protesting.
“Texas will always defend the First Amendment right to peacefully protest, but Texas is not going to tolerate violence, vandalism or rioting.”
Abbott’s proposals will either enhance the punishment for existing crimes, or criminalize new acts not covered by previous legislation.
Some of the actions covered in Abbott’s proposals include pointing lasers at police, using fireworks during a riot, causing injury to others, destroying property and blocking the entrances and exits of hospitals. Any rioter caught doing any of these will be charged with a felony that carries with it mandatory jail time.
The governor also stressed that anybody who tries to harm police officers will be charged with a felony and be given a mandatory sentence of six months in jail.
Abbott’s proposal will also target anybody who is caught aiding rioters either through organizational or financial assistance. They will face a felony with mandatory jail time. Furthermore, the Attorney General of Texas, currently Republican Ken Paxton, and his office will be given the ability to pursue civil penalties against these organizers and financiers if they so choose. (Related: Gov. DeSantis proposes new law introducing harsh punishments for rioters, riot organizers and their financiers.)
Currently, “participating in a riot,” defined as a gathering of seven or more people that, at least partially, creates a danger to a person or property, is a misdemeanor offense with a maximum jail sentence of six months.
As state governments like Texas and Florida prepare to roll out harsher punishments against rioters and their backers, the federal government is doing the same. Listen to this episode of the Health Ranger Report, a podcast by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, as he talks about how Attorney General William Barr and the Department of Justice are planning to charge rioters with sedition or insurrection.
Abbott’s legislative proposals come after witnessing lackluster response to rioters in Dallas
Abbott is reportedly pursuing these harsher punishments against rioters after what he witnessed in Dallas when the city erupted in rioting. When many people were arrested, Abbott says they were released back out into the streets where they could engage in more criminal behavior.
“This will prevent the mockery of the revolving-door arrests,” said the governor.
Abbott made his announcement regarding the legislative proposals with Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Dennis Bonnen.
“What Gov. Abbott’s laying out today brings honor and dignity and respect to the cause,” said Bonnen to reporters. “When someone is peacefully, respectfully and passionately protesting, they should not have that belief destroyed by people who have ill intent.”
Abbott also took the opportunity to criticize the Dallas City Council, who just voted to defund their police department by cutting the Dallas PD’s overtime budget by $7 million and redistributing it to hiring more civilians in the police department or for other public safety programs. The governor said that not having enough money to pay for overtime fees will result in fewer officers on the street, and thus higher crime rates for the city.
The president of the Dallas Police Association, Michael Mata, was also present during the announcement. He used his time in front of the press to talk about how the changes and reforms that Texas police departments need to pass must be done in a constructive manner.
“Do we have to change our profession? Are there things that we need to fix? Absolutely. But they need to be done in constructive ways. If we’re going to take money from police departments, we should not be taking money because somebody is yelling and screaming telling us we should. If we’re going to fix problems, let’s fix the problems of homelessness. Let’s fix the problems of drug addiction. Let’s fix the problems of alcoholism, mental health care. These are the problems that officers are having to deal with that we are not trained to do, not adequately enough. Fix those problems, and if you’re going to use money, use money directly for those causes.”
In recent weeks, Abbott has also released policy proposals that are intended to deter local governments from decreasing the budgets of their police departments, including by freezing property tax rates forever and by limiting their ability to annex unincorporated areas into their territory.
Abbott’s legislative proposals are expected to be voted on during the Texas Legislature’s next session in 2021.
State governments in conservative states like Texas and Florida are working hard to make sure rioters can no longer terrorize innocent Americans for much longer. Learn more about their efforts and other ways governments are fighting back against crime by reading the articles at Rioting.news.