The Slatest

Arizona May Criminalize Involvement in Protests at Which Violence or Vandalism Occur

An anti-Trump protest in Washington on Jan. 19.

Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

Good afternoon! Arizona’s state Senate has voted to advance a law that the ACLU says could make protest organizers liable for prosecution if anyone—even someone they don’t know—commits or is planning to commit an act of violence or property crime at said protest.

The Arizona Capitol Times has a report:

Republican state senators voted Wednesday to give police new power to arrest anyone who is involved in a peaceful demonstration that may turn bad — even before anything actually happened.


SB1142 expands the state’s racketeering laws, now aimed at organized crime, to also include rioting. And it redefines what constitutes rioting to include actions that result in damage to the property of others.

Here is the text of the law and here is some background on the unique individuals who proposed it, including a gentleman named Sonny Borrelli who has complained that anarchists are being paid to create chaos across the country and asserted at a Feb. 14 hearing that Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar Chavez would have supported his bill.

“The sponsors of the bill believe that there is some network paying people to go out and protest,” Arizona ACLU spokesman Steve Kilar says. “They believe that they are creating a system that allows them to get back to these fictitious funders.” The bill still needs to pass the Arizona state House and be signed by Republican Gov. Doug Ducey to become law; Kilar says the ACLU is taking that possibility “very seriously.”