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Indiana Senate committee discusses trio of bills created from summer's protests

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Posted at 6:05 PM, Feb 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 18:06:24-05

INDIANAPOLIS – An Indiana Senate committee discussed Tuesday a handful of bills that were written after the protests and civil unrest from last summer, advancing one to the full Senate.

The first bill heard would widen the definition of “reasonable force” to include pointing firearms at people in self-defense. The bill’s author, Sen. Michael Young R-Indianapolis, said business owners were helpless over the summer to the protests, some of which became violent and damaged property in downtown Indianapolis.

The bill would allow pointing a firearm, either loaded or unloaded, to protect property from being stolen.

The bill was discussed, but no vote was taken. A vote in committee is expected next week.

The second bill discussed would increase protection for monuments, memorials and statues in Indiana. As written, it would make damaging such a monument a felony. But that is already written into Indiana law, making the new bill irrelevant. To remedy that, lawmakers introduced and passed an amendment to the bill, stating it’s the policy of Indiana to prosecute anybody who damages monuments or memorials. The amended bill was unanimously advanced to the full Senate.

The final bill discussed would, among other things, increase the penalties for rioting and obstructing traffic if either leads to serious injury or causes serious property damage. Currently, rioting is a misdemeanor in Indiana – the bill would increase that to a felony.

It would also give the Indiana attorney general the ability to prosecute people for rioting, leading to discussion on whether there could be conflicts if both the county prosecutor and the attorney general file charges against a suspect.

Young, who also wrote this bill, said he wants to penalize rioters who damage property or harm others. But he also said he wants to make sure people can peacefully protest.

The bill was held for a vote likely next week.