INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - A House Republican introduced a bill Friday that would make those charged with violence, looting or vandalism in connection with a protest ineligible for enhanced coronavirus unemployment benefits.
The “Support Peaceful Protest Act” would also make rioters “financially liable for the cost of federal policing,” according to the bill, which is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind.
“If you’re convicted of a crime that caused more manpower and law enforcement officers to deal with it, then perhaps you should be on the hook to pay for that,” Banks told WIBC-FM in Indianapolis.
Banks said he introduced the bill the day after an older couple who are his constituents were harassed by protesters while leaving President Trump’s nomination acceptance speech at the White House on Thursday evening.
He said many rioters have time to participate in violence because they are unemployed people receiving government benefits -- including increased federal benefits for those who have lost their jobs amid the pandemic.
“What we’re seeing happen in big cities and around the country are angry violent mobs showing up at federal properties, tearing down monuments on federal properties, especially in Washington, D.C. and it’s got to stop,” he said. “What my bill would do is add new consequences to those individuals who are breaking the law.”
Banks said he supports peaceful protest.
“There are a lot of Americans who are showing up at peaceful protests,” he said, adding that his bill is a “common sense” step to add some “accountability for some of these angry mob protests that are occurring around our country.”
“The people who are acting out in violence are very different from those who are showing up peacefully and it’s easy to see the difference,” he told WIBC.
He added that the option for peaceful protest is part of being an American, but causing harm to another person or defacing federal property isn’t OK.
“We should take those tax dollars away and say that those who break the law in violent protest shouldn’t receive taxpayer dollars."