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Ohio lawmaker wants rioters to pay for damages

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(The Center Square) – In the wake of recent protests on college and university campuses in Ohio and nationwide, an Ohio senator wants to make rioters pay for property damages while breaking the law.

Senate Bill 267, which is awaiting a committee assignment, would also stop government officials from interfering with law enforcement officers during a riot.

“This legislation is pretty cut and dry. You break it, you fix it,” said Sen. Tim Schaffer, R-Lancaster. “Over the past several years, we have seen how violence has taken a toll on communities and the damage riots and violent protests have caused. We need to hold accountable those who act to harm or damage property and ensure that they are the ones paying for these actions – not the local taxpayers and businesses.”

The bill also includes language that prohibits any government official from limiting or restricting the authority of officers to take action to quell, arrest or detain individuals involved in a riot or vandalism.

“Effective law enforcement is a hallmark of a modern and civilized society,” Schaffer said. “We need to do all we can to empower our law enforcement officers so that they can fulfill their sworn duty, and we are fortunate that they want to serve.”

Along with recent college protests of Israel’s war with Hamas, protesters filled the streets of downtown Columbus nearly four years ago protesting the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

More than 100 businesses were vandalized, along with numerous government buildings. The city enacted a curfew, and Gov. Mike DeWine called in the Ohio National Guard to maintain order.

The city settled a federal lawsuit with more than 30 protesters in December for nearly $6 million. The suit said at least three of the plaintiffs suffered broken bones. Following a hearing, U.S. District Judge Algenon Marbley issued a preliminary injunction against the city that barred officers from using non-lethal force, including tear gas, pepper spray, rubber bullets, wooden pellets and other items on nonviolent protestors.

Two years later, the City Council approved a new ordinance that limits police from using tear gas, wooden or rubber bullets, batons, flash-bang grenades and other items on nonviolent protesters on streets and sidewalks.

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