PHOENIX (AP) — The full Arizona Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that makes participating in or helping organize a protest that turns into a riot an offense that could lead to criminal racketeering charges, legislation Republican backers say is needed to crack down on violent protesters, according to usnews.com.
The measure adds rioting to the organized crime statutes and says an overt act isn’t needed to prove conspiracy to riot, meaning someone could be charged who wasn’t involved in the actual riot.
Senate Bill 1142 would allow prosecutors to seize a person’s assets in addition to enhanced criminal charges. Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, has said his bill is needed to deter violent riots and go after groups paying protesters. Opponents said it is so broadly written that it could ensnare innocent people and chill free speech rights.
Senate Bill 1142 reads:
“A person commits riot if, with two or more other persons acting together, such person recklessly uses force or violence or threatens to use force or violence, if such threat is accompanied by immediate power of execution, which either disturbs the public peace or results in damage to the property of another person.”
The bill now heads to the Republican-majority House, where it is expected to pass and be signed into law by Republican Governor Doug Ducey.