Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds recently signed Senate File 342, otherwise known as the ‘Back the Blue’ bill, to elevate the penalties for unlawful protesters and raise immunity for Iowa police officers. She signed the bill at the Iowa Law Enforcement Academy in Johnson.
“I made it clear in my Condition of the State Address that Iowa’s law enforcement will always have my respect, and I will always have their back. Today’s bill embodies that commitment in a historic way. The public peace is too important, and the safety of our officers too precious, to tolerate destructive behavior,” Gov. Reynolds said.
Republican Party of Iowa Chairman Jeff Kaufmann said that the legislation supports law enforcement so that they can do their jobs when the communities need it most. He said that the bill supports the men and women in blue, rather than demonizing them.
The bill would make it a felony to be involved in a riot or unlawful assembly and raise protection for officers in court. It would make it more difficult for protesters to sue officers individually for misconduct. Law enforcement officials will be protected until the plaintiff can prove that the officer violated a clear section of the law. Iowa currently uses the “all due care” burden of proof, which means that police officers are protected from lawsuits if their department can prove they were exercising “all due care.”
The bill will also protect drivers who unintentionally hit protesters in the street during a protest and increase the penalties for rioting and blocking roadways.
Charges will be elevated to a Class D Felony for anyone who assaults a public or civil servant. Under the bill, unlawful assemblies will be considered an aggravated misdemeanor, interference with public order control will be considered an aggravated misdemeanor, and disorderly conduct will be considered a simple misdemeanor.
Gov. Reynolds told Iowans that the state encourages the First Amendment rights to protest peacefully, but that protesters will be held accountable when they break the law.
Rep. Jared Klein said that the bill was passed to show support for law enforcement and keep the communities safe. He said that he wants protesters to stop defacing public property and turning to violence. “Peaceful is great, but when it gets to the point where there’s defacing of public property, violence…that is not peaceful. That’s violent, and that we cannot tolerate,” he said.
Matt Stuckey, a member of the Back the Blue campaign, said that many council members were trying to defund the police for months until the murder of police officer Chris Oberheim. He was shot and killed while responding to a domestic disturbance call at an apartment complex. Stuckey said that council members came out after the event to say that they “support the police,” which he found to be a “slap in the face.”
Observers pointed out how the states that have defunded the police are the same states seeing rising crime rates, which some have noted is a direct result of the lack of police support.
While some states have continued to step up and support our men and women in blue, other areas have continued to bow down to Black Lives Matter and the ‘woke’ mob. They are getting repaid with crime-infested streets, looted small businesses, officers who aren’t motivated to do their jobs, and communities that are in danger.