New York county passes bill allowing police to sue protesters
Lawmakers in New York’s Nassau County passed a bill on Monday that allows police officers and first responders to file legal action against individuals who harass, attack or injure them because of their job.
The legislature in the Long Island county passed the bill in a 12-6 vote, according to The Washington Post. The legislation, however, still needs to be signed by County Executive Laura Curran before it can be enacted.
Curran has not yet signaled if she will sign the measure, according to a local ABC affiliate. In a statement to News 12, she said she will be reaching out to the attorney general’s office to “review and provide some advice.”
“I’m proud of the dedicated first responders who’ve made Nassau the safest County in America, and I will continue to stand against defunding the police. My administration is committed to protecting the brave men and women of law enforcement who keep us safe. There were many speakers today who questioned this legislation. Now that it has been passed by the Legislature, I will be making an inquiry to the Attorney General’s Office to review and provide some advice,” Curran said, according to News 12.
The bill would establish first responders as a “protected class” in accordance with the county’s Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination based on race, disability, gender, sexual orientation and other factors, Newsday reported.
No other professions are included in the Human Rights Law, the newspaper noted.
The legislation would also give the the county attorney the green light to launch legal action on behalf of first responders who are requesting financial damages against protesters for “discrimination,” according to Newsday.
The bill, if passed, will allow officials to receive financial and punitive damages. Civil penalties to the “aggrieved” first responder would come to $25,000 and up to $50,000 if the violation happens during a riot.
Before the bill was passed Monday night, more than 200 people, including civil rights leaders, community activists and members of law enforcement unions, gathered at the legislative chambers for a public meeting regarding the legislation, which lasted eight hours, Newsday reported.
Supporters of the legislation said it provides extra protections for officers in the face of “destructive riots and lawlessness” that targets law enforcement officials in the aftermath the death of George Floyd, the Post reported.
Those opposed, however, say the bill is a “retaliation” to the protests led by Black Lives Matter against police abuses, according to the newspaper. They said they are concerned the bill can subdue demonstrations.