Riots; unlawful assembly, penalty. (SB1058)

Introduced By

Sen. Richard Stuart (R-Westmoreland)

Progress

Introduced
Passed Committee
Passed House
Passed Senate
Signed by Governor
Became Law

Description

Riots; unlawful assembly; penalty. Provides that any person participating in a riot or unlawful assembly that blocks a public highway is guilty of a Class 6 felony and that any person who conspires with others to cause or produce a riot, or who directs, incites, or solicits other persons who participate in a riot, during which any other person is injured is guilty of a Class 4 felony in addition to any other penalty provided by law. Read the Bill »

Status

01/06/2017: Awaiting a Vote in the Judiciary Committee

History

DateAction
01/06/2017Prefiled and ordered printed; offered 01/11/17 17101260D
01/06/2017Referred to Committee for Courts of Justice
01/12/2017Impact statement from VCSC (SB1058)
01/18/2017Stricken at the request of Patron in Courts of Justice (14-Y 0-N) (see vote tally)

Comments

ACLU-VA Free Speech, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia opposes this bill. Absent a real danger to the community, predicated by increased incidents or actual threats to public safety, there is no need to heighten penalties for non-violent civil disobedience. This bill proposes felony charges against protesters who choose to participate in civil disobedience and block a highway (broadly defined as any road in VA). If convicted, protesters could face 5 years in prison for blocking a road. Virginia should be moving towards reforms that decrease our prison population rather than increasing penalties for non-violent crimes.

Sharon Hufton writes:

This is attack on the very idea of Democracy. This is a partisan bill that resembles the likes of A Russian regime.

Jinni Maybush writes:

Virginia should be moving towards reforms that decrease our prison population rather than increasing penalties for non-violent crimes. Please vote NO on SB1058

Marie writes:

This is an attack on our rights as Americans. Constitutional rights encompass our right to assemble without penalty. This is a ridiculous bill and should be shot down before it goes any further. We are not living in Russia, this is America where people have the constitutional right to speak out against things they oppose. This is a right for all Americans not just the ones that have the same political views as me. This affects all of us from whats happening now to the future of our country. When you silence one political group your effectively silencing all of them.
-Marie

megan rollins writes:

Terribly written bill seeking to shut down the right of people to peacefully assemble and protest. Felony convictions cause lasting damage to a persons life, a temporary blocking of a roadway is not sufficient cause. Vote NO on this and the other companion bills, SB1055-1058.

Ashley writes:

Please say no to SB1058 - this bill does nothing but try to disable our rights to a peaceful protest. Consequences like these are unnecessary and would be an overreaction for someone just trying to stand up for their rights.

Jay A Hufton writes:

Blatant Republican attempt to silence the dissent of those who would dare to speak out in protest against any form of civil rights violations or social injustice. This law would have made Martin Luther King Jr and Congressman John Lewis felons. Shameful and Un-American.

Heather Hufton writes:

This appears to be in direct, retaliatory response to a Black Lives Matter demonstration last year in which citizens in the Hampton Roads area took to the streets disrupting traffic temporarily to demand justice for yet another shooting of an unarmed black person. This bill is designed to instill fear and quiet the people, not to deliver justice. I oppose this bill absolutely.

Sidney Newton writes:

A glance at the Fiscal Impact Statement should be all that's necessary to see that this bill is not proposed as a remedy to any particular problem. According to that document 26 people over the past five years have been charged under the legislation as it exists now. 26 people charged over a five year period is, to Senator Stuart, a problem which much be addressed by stiffer penalties. Or, as is more likely, Senator Stuart would like stiffer penalties for supporters of Black Lives Matter.

It is not acceptable for legislators to enact laws as a cudgel to use against those with whom they disagree. Legislators have a duty to thoughtfully propose legislation which is necessary to the well being or safety of all their citizens. They also have a duty not to diminish the rights and freedoms of the population as much as is possible while doing so.

The second concept must be familiar to conservatives like Senator Stuart as this session they seek to expand the right of all to carry guns. Even a felony conviction or the lack of a permit ought not prevent a Virginian from carrying a concealed weapon in their view. It is, apparently, the first which is a stumbling block. This legislation remedies no problem. No legislation they've proposed remedies the very real problem of widespread gun violence which kills more Virginians than traffic accidents on the roads Senator Stuart is so concerned about.

Pamela Howard writes:

I oppose this bill absolutely.

Our civil rights are under attack in 2017. Our right to assemble should not be criminalized!

Sharon Elber writes:

I can't say it better or clear the the Virginia Bill of Rights.
Article I. Bill of Rights
A DECLARATION OF RIGHTS made by the good people of Virginia in the exercise of their sovereign powers, which rights do pertain to them and their posterity, as the basis and foundation of government.
Section 12. Freedom of speech and of the press; right peaceably to assemble, and to petition.
That the freedoms of speech and of the press are among the great bulwarks of liberty, and can never be restrained except by despotic governments; that any citizen may freely speak, write, and publish his sentiments on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right; that the General Assembly shall not pass any law abridging the freedom of speech or of the press, nor the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.

VOTE NO, or be defined as despotic by the Virginia constitution.

Ben Ramage writes:

This bill is a major affront to our civil liberties. It is unconstitutional and un-American. Vote NO!

Johnathan Rickman writes:

Just say no. I wrote a news story about this bill. Please share and follow me if you're on WordPress, too! https://rickmanvapol.wordpress.com/2017/01/17/felony-records-proposed-for-protesters-who-block-traffic/

Jerry Pope writes:

The Freedom of speech & assembly is in the US Constitution these right cannot be altered by the so called dtates rights movement, To violate these principles in un-American!

Johannah writes:

I urge you to vote no on this bill. It creates unnecessary and potentially dangerous barriers to our basic democratic rights.

Jennifer Trippeer writes:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the presence the right of the people peaceably to assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." First Amendment United States Constitution. How can there be a felony charge associated with the right to peacefully assemble in protest? It is the people's way of uniting and communicating with the government to express their beliefs. As long as it is a peaceful expression, a five year prison sentence along with a felony record is disproportionate to exercising a right granted by our forefathers in the Constitution.

Don Myers writes:

This bill is a disgrace. It is an ugly and coordinated attack on the First Amendment. I'm sure it has exactly ZERO chances of surviving a court challenge, but it would save a lot of time if you just vote "no." Thanks!

Doug writes:

Don't be so sure it won't survive a court challenge... just look at issues like Citizens United as an example. It becomes even more of a concern given the likelihood of more conservatives, perhaps extreme, being appointed to the SCOTUS.

Chrystal Doyle writes:

Civil disobedience is protected in this Country and should not be a felony offense. This Bill is a direct affront to the First Amendment.

ACLU-VA Legislative Agenda, tracking this bill in Photosynthesis, notes:

The ACLU of Virginia opposes this bill. Absent a real danger to the community, predicated by increased incidents or actual threats to public safety, there is no need to heighten penalties for non-violent civil disobedience. This bill proposes felony charges against protesters who choose to participate in civil disobedience and block a highway (broadly defined as any road in VA). If convicted, protesters could face 5 years in prison for blocking a road. Virginia should be moving towards reforms that decrease our prison population rather than increasing penalties for non-violent crimes.

Laura Schmitt writes:

This is outrageous that our great common wealth continues to try to silence those who would speak out against corruption and exercise the means of a peaceful demonstration. Please vote NO on this issue....

Leah Moore writes:

This is unconstitutional and an affront to American freedom. Please vote No.

Tessa writes:

This bill is a disgrace. Vote NO

Casey Boniface writes:

I'm appalled that a bill like this has even been proposed. This is unconstitutional and fascist. STOP.

JOANNE ADAMS GREENE writes:

Vote no. There are already penalties for unlawful gatherings and for any violence or rioting that may occur. This law would essentially stop law abiding citizens from participating in peaceful marches for fear of becoming a felon simply because they were not looking at their watches and didn't realize that the time frame permit for the gathering had been reached. I marched this past week-end and I was warned by my veteran co-marchers that we needed to disperse at exactly the correct time. Within minutes of our leaving the crowd, several police cars, with sirens blaring came to disperse the crowd. There were no problems on Saturday, but with this type of law, police could arrest peaceful protesters and ruin their lives with a felony. This is NOT democracy.