SAN ANTONIO (KTSA News) – Gov. Greg Abbott is proposing legislative measures that would criminalize rioting activities and make them felony offenses with mandatory jail time. That would apply to those who injure someone or destroy property, use fireworks or block hospital entrances and exits.
He also wants the Texas Legislature to make it a felony to strike a law enforcement officer with things like bricks, bottles or projectiles during a protest to be charged with a felony leading to jail time. Protestors who target officers with lasers also would spend some time behind bars.
“Law enforcement officers have been injured or even blinded by lasers, and these lasers impair a law enforcement officer’s ability to perform their duties, especially during the time of a riot,” said Abbott.
The governor also wants state lawmakers to punish people who are linked to the crimes, even though they’re not present at the riots.
“What they do is they aid and they abet riots with funds or organizational assistance,”Abbott said. “This will be a felony that will lead to jail time.”
Speaking in Dallas Thursday, the governor said the Constitution guarantees the right to assemble peaceably, but it does not provide the right to riot.
“Texas will always defend the First Amendment Right to peaceably protest, but Texas is not going to tolerate violence, vandalism or rioting,” the governor said.
“We also propose giving the attorney general the power to pursue civil penalties against people in organizations that assist in riot,” he said.
Governor Abbott also proposed a law that would keep rioters behind bars until their first court appearance.
Here are the proposals announced Thursday.