Nassau County lawmakers permitted laws late on Monday that provides the county legal professional and the police commissioner the power to sue extraordinary residents who harass police and different first responders.
The proposal ignited a firestorm of controversy from a coalition of traditionally marginalized teams who say being a member of the policing career isn’t the identical as race, gender, age, sexual orientation, or capability.
The invoice now permits the police commissioner and county legal professional to file swimsuit beneath the county’s human rights legislation in opposition to anybody who assaults, menaces, or harasses a primary responder for as a lot as $50,000. That’s separate from any potential civil jury awards. The invoice borrows language from the New York State penal legislation, which defines harassment as to “alarm or significantly annoy” an individual.
Throughout a public listening to, opponents mentioned the laws is designed to retaliate in opposition to anybody who criticizes the police and is an insult to people who find themselves continuously discriminated in opposition to by the police and others.
“You need to bankrupt any individual and shut them down. That is a technique of doing it,” mentioned Fredrick Brewington, a civil rights lawyer. “Individuals are going to be afraid to talk their thoughts.”
The invoice additionally says that if the primary responder is in uniform, there’s “irrebuttable presumption” that that individual was focused due to their career. This goes past the edge of hate crimes statutes, which require proof of intent.
Opponents additionally argued that the legislation will give police and different first responders extra latitude to sue for discrimination than is afforded transgender people who find themselves not included within the county’s human rights legal guidelines.
The laws was initially proposed by members of the Democrats’ caucus. After dealing with criticism, they tried to desk the invoice. Republicans prevented this. Nassau’s politically highly effective police unions supported the invoice saying they shouldn’t face discrimination or harassment due to their career.
Legislator Joshua Lafazan, the invoice’s sponsor, confronted withering criticism from civil rights teams who mentioned he was bowing to unions throughout an election yr. However, he defended his proposal saying it merely provides a civil part to present felony legal guidelines.
“The crimes of menacing and harassment have been on the books for a very long time but we now have not seen them used to suppress freedom of speech just like the critics of this invoice alledge,” he mentioned.
In a press release, Nassau County Govt Laura Curran mentioned she is going to search the recommendation of the New York Legal professional Normal Letitia James.