All Republicans and ten Democrats in the Iowa Senate have passed a bill designed to penalize cities that “defund” the police. Republicans senators passed another bill that would boost penalties for rioting.
Senator Julian Garrett, a Republican from Indianola, said it’s about supporting law enforcement officers who dealt with violent rioters last summer.
“Those are folks out violating the law,” Garrett said. “That’s why we’ve got these provisions…to try to make the penalties enough that people will think twice about it.”
Garrett’s bill would keep arrested protesters in jail for 24 hours before they’d be eligible for release. Garrett calls it a “cooling off period.”
“Someone who is out rioting and violating the law who is arrested, just hang onto them a little while so they don’t go right back out and start rioting again,” Garrett said.
Democrats called the list of enhanced penalties “extreme.” Senator Tony Bisignano, a Democrat from Des Moines, said Republicans seem to have forgotten why people were protesting last summer.
“We’re acting now like it was an isolated incident of a bunch of nuts that came out and just started destroying property. We’re not ever talking in this place about the inequality,” Bisignano said. “…It’s like the freedom of speech, you only get excited when we don’t like what somebody says…You didn’t like what you saw last summer, but what I saw last summer was frustrated people who have been mistreated for hundreds of years.”
Senator Kevin Kinney, a Democrat from Oxford who is a retired deputy sheriff, questioned boosting the penalty for criminal mischief — for painting graffiti, breaking windows or defacing statues.
“Do we really want that to be a Class D felony that affects a kid the rest of their life?” Kinney asked.
The bill also creates a new crime called “interference with public disorder control.” Senator Dan Dawson, a Republican from Council Bluffs — a special agent with the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, said it’s a charge that could be leveled at someone who does something like throw a tear gas canister back at police.
“What our law enforcement saw around the (Iowa) Capitol last summer that while there were many peaceful protesters to show up…there were also actors out there who decided to agitate,” Dawson said.