Ohio House approves legislation aimed at protest behavior

Ohio
FILE - In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, a man holds a sign during a protest, in Cleveland. Voters in communities across the country, including Columbus, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Jose and Seattle, approved measures on Election Day toughening civilian oversight of law enforcement agencies, including some that took years to reach the ballot but grew in urgency after global protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

FILE – In this Sept. 29, 2020, file photo, a man holds a sign during a protest, in Cleveland. Voters in communities across the country, including Columbus, Pittsburgh, Portland, San Jose and Seattle, approved measures on Election Day toughening civilian oversight of law enforcement agencies, including some that took years to reach the ballot but grew in urgency after global protests over racial injustice and police brutality. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak, File)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The GOP-controlled Ohio House has approved legislation increasing penalties associated with behavior at protests.

The bill is one of four General Assembly proposals introduced following last year’s protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

The measured passed Friday expands the definition of obstructing justice in Ohio to include failure to follow a lawful order or diverting a law enforcement officer’s attention.

It goes next to the Ohio Senate, where similar legislation is being considered.

Opponents, including the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, call it an effort to discourage free speech and the right to protest.

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