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Arizona panel votes to boost unlawful protest penalties

Lawmakers accepted tickets from casino owner
Posted at 7:31 PM, Feb 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-15 21:31:36-05

PHOENIX (AP) — Arizona lawmakers are considering boosting penalties for people arrested at protests.

The measure that advanced Monday out of a House committee drew opposition from civil rights groups worried officers will target Black Lives Matter demonstrators or others with messages police find distasteful.

The bill is among several advancing in the Republican-controlled Legislature in the wake of demonstrations against police brutality last year.

Critics worry the measures would discourage people from exercising their First Amendment right to protest.

Supporters say it would support free speech rights by preventing people with violent intentions from hijacking peaceful protests.