Written by Jasmine
Current Monroe County Executive, Cheryl Donolfo (R), officially signed a bill that has been a controversial hot topic since the primary elections. Despite protests and a public hearing on the matter, the anti harassment bill was signed into law on Monday.
According to Monroe County Legislature, the new bill would punish anyone who was found to have harassed any first responders. The issue with this bill stems from the vagueness of the language used to define “harassment”.
The bill defines harassment broadly, meaning people can be punished for anything from annoying first responders to physically assaulting them. This determination is completely subjective to the first responders who would be reporting it, and offenders could receive a fine up to $5,000 and/or even jail time.
Republicans say the bill was designed with the intent to protect first responders, however opponents of the bill say it’s “concerning” and “racist”.
Rev. Lewis Stewart of United Christian Leadership Ministry believes, “It is unconstitutional, it is racist, and trample on the first amendment. The law is vague and gives authority to police, to subjectively determine that which is annoying or alarming.”
“We feel it’s a direct attack against already over-police brown and black communities,” said Ashley Gantt, a statewide organizer for ACLU.
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