Almost a year after the nation was engulfed in riots, the Texas Senate unanimously passed a bill that would make it a felony for rioters to assault first responders.
“[Senate Bill 912] seeks to deter violent rioters from hurting first responders and offer restitution to property owners from rioters,” State Sen. Dawn Buckingham (R–Lakeway) told senators on Tuesday.
SB 912 would make it a state jail felony if rioters “knowingly committed or attempted to commit” an offense against an individual they knew was a first responder. Someone convicted of participating in a riot would have to make restitution to property owners for any damage they did.
“It’s simple,” Buckingham posted after her bill passed. “If you riot and harm first responders, you will go to jail. If you destroy property, you will pay for it.”
Passage of this bill comes just two weeks after Black Lives Matter activists marched in Dallas as the nation prepared itself for the possibility of more riots depending on the jury verdict in the trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin, who was convicted of murdering Floyd. The activists threatened violence, created a disturbance inside a restaurant, and protested in front of a hotel. One of the protestors, wearing a red shirt featuring the Next Generation Action Network logo, was recorded holding a rifle. Others protestors that night were seen wearing the same shirt.
“If we don’t get it, burn it down,” they chanted at one point.
Both NGAN and its partner, the Dallas Community Police Oversight Coalition, organized last summer’s protests-turned-riots in the city after the tragic death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
What’s unknown is what would happen if district attorneys were to unilaterally ignore SB 912 should it become law.
NGAN’s founder, Dominique Alexander, has a history in Dallas city hall politics and helped campaign for Democrat Dallas County District Attorney John Creuzot. Creuzot refused to prosecute activists who were arrested last summer for blocking the Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge. He also didn’t respond to a press inquiry on whether he could guarantee to citizens that law and order would be maintained following the Chauvin trial verdict.
Last October, mere months after the summer riots, when asked about possible violence during the 2020 elections, Creuzot told Texas Scorecard, “I don’t assume that we’re going to have a breakout of violence. I think that Dallas is a peaceful city. I think that there may be people who come in who may want to foment violence and do that. And if they did that, we’re going to hold them responsible if we can prove a case.”
SB 912 now moves to the Texas House.