Bill toughening protester penalties heads to Dayton
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A bill increasing fines and penalties for protesters who block freeways, transit lines and airports is headed for Gov. Mark Dayton’s desk after clearing the Minnesota Legislature.
The proposal passed the Republican-controlled Senate Monday. It would hit protesters with up to a year in jail and $3,000 if convicted of blocking traffic during protests.
The effort to crack down on disruptive demonstrations started last year in response to months of protests over officer-involved shootings that clogged interstate traffic.
Supporters say increasing penalties from a misdemeanor to a gross misdemeanor would improve public safety. The bill passed on a 40-27 vote over Democrats’ objections that it would stifle free speech.
Dayton has expressed some openness to proposal but has also derided it as a “non-issue.”