Indiana lawmaker proposes protesters leave streets or officers remove them

An Indiana lawmaker is targeting protesters who block traffic with a bill that would require officers to remove people by any means necessary. (WISH Photo)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – To keep protesters from blocking traffic, an Indiana lawmaker wants officers to take action.

Street protests have occurred across the country, including in Indianapolis in November after Donald Trump won the presidency.

Traffic was blocked, officers injured, and people were arrested. Two months later, an Indiana lawmaker is proposing protesters get off the street, or officers will take them off.

“It sounds like they’re bring out water cannons, and stuff, and I don’t know if that’s the right thing either,” Indianapolis resident, Christopher Minton said. “You have a right to protest, but other people have a right to get to work.”

“So, if it’s to stop highways from being blocked and letting commuters go on their way home, or whatever they want on time, that’s fine,” Indianapolis resident, Mohammad Rehman said.

Here’s how the bill works. If 10 or more people gather in the street, and block traffic. 15 minutes after hearing about it, all available officers are supposed to report to the scene, and use any means necessary to remove the protesters.

“That’s very threatening language,” Don’t Sleep founder, Dominic Dorsey said. “Any means necessary.”

Dominic Dorsey is part of a group that takes part in street protests. He said a bill aimed to stop them is excessive. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)
Dominic Dorsey is part of a group that takes part in street protests. He said a bill aimed to stop them is excessive. (WISH Photo/Nick Natario)

Dorsey, and his group have taken part in a number of street protests. He worries what will happen if this bill passes.

“We can’t allow thing like this to happen,” Dorsey said. “We can’t create animosity between protesters and law enforcement.”

State Senator Jim Tomes drafted the bill. He wasn’t available for an interview, but sent 24-Hour News 8 a statement.

“Anyone who wants to stage or participate in a protest or demonstration is free to do so. But they will need to do what all other organizations do for an event or demonstration: apply for a permit with their local government. With this information, first responders will know what roads are going to be blocked and what roads they can take when responding to an emergency. An ambulance needs to be able to get to an individual who is having a heart attack, and law enforcement needs to be able to respond to a call to attend to someone who needs help.”

While it would make things more difficult, will it scare protesters? “Absolutely not,” Dorsey said. “But I’ll tell you we’re working to unify to fight this bill, and any bill that prevents individuals from being able to lift their voice.”

The bill is currently in a committee. A spokesperson believes changes could be made.

Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department wouldn’t comment on the bill, but said it’s monitoring the progress of the proposal.

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