Long Island county legislature votes to allow first responders to sue protesters and sets civil fines of up to $50,000

After a heated, five-hour public testimony period, the legislature on Long Island voted 12-6 to put the bill into law. It goes into effect immediately.

This law comes as states and localities try to put limits on the rights of protesters after more than a year of protests supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.

While the Nassau County law does not specifically name Black Lives Matter, it does cite “civil unrest since the close of May of last year,” which is when protests erupted in response to the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

Several attorneys attending the hearing on Monday predicted the law would be challenged on constitutional grounds.

In the past year, Oklahoma passed a law that grants immunity to drivers who unintentionally injure or kill protesters while attempting to flee and stiffens penalties for demonstrators who block public roadways. Florida increased penalties for assault and other related charges during a riot, and prohibited the damaging or defacing of memorials or historic property.
There are currently 53 similar bills pending bills across the country, according to a bill tracker examining US protest laws from the International Center for Not-For-Profit Law.