Lawmakers adopt penalties for failing to protect monuments

The Indiana Legislature passed a bill Thursday that allows the state to withhold funding to cities that fail to protect public monuments and memorials from vandalism, part of an attempt by Republican lawmakers to deter the kind of destructive riots that took place after the death of George Floyd.

State agencies would be allowed to withhold certain discretionary funds from local governments that don’t prioritize the protection of certain facilities, monuments, memorials and statues, according to the legislation. State police would also be required to assist local governments when investigating people who desecrate any monuments and memorials.

“This is honestly a bill I hope never has to be used, and I hope not a single penny has to be held from a political subdivision,” said Sen. Eric Koch, R-Bedford. “But we hold certain monuments and .. memorials with very special significance.”

The Senate measure was amended by lawmakers in the House to also revive language from another bill to make it easier to charge rioters with a felony.

Rioting is raised from a Class A misdemeanor to a level six felony, which carries a prison sentence of up to 2-1/2 years and a fine of up to $50,000 if there’s resulting property damage or serious bodily injury, according to the provision.

The felony further increases to a level five—carrying one to six years in prison—if it results in catastrophic injury, death or damage of at least $50,000.

Enabling rioting would additionally become a Class B misdemeanor. The charge applies to anyone present while members of an unlawful assembly are committing a felony, knows that the action is criminal and fails to leave the area or report the act to police. Currently, it carries no penalty.

The bill, which heads to the governor, is part of a series introduced by Republican legislators that seek to increase penalties for rioting, vandalizing monuments, blocking emergency vehicles and violating curfews.

The proposals came in response to May 2020 protests against racial injustice and police brutality spurred by Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody. In Indianapolis, it resulted in several nights of sometimes violent and destructive protests, as well as clashes between demonstrators and police.

Please enable JavaScript to view this content.

Story Continues Below

Editor's note: You can comment on IBJ stories by signing in to your IBJ account. If you have not registered, please sign up for a free account now. Please note our updated comment policy that will govern how comments are moderated.

5 thoughts on “Lawmakers adopt penalties for failing to protect monuments

  1. They are the State’s monuments if I’m not mistaken. Doesn’t that make the Indiana State Police responsible for protecting them? Also, these rioting laws need to be challenged by the ACLU. There are so many ways those laws could be used to infringe on our 1st amendment rights. And no, no one has the right to commit violence or destroy property. Those things are illegal already. Imagine the outrage on the right if every single person from Trump’s 1/6/21 rally (turned riot) were arrested just for attending what began as a peaceful protest? The GOP ought to realize their base was responsible for one of the most high profile riots in American history.

    1. An astute observation, Kevin P., spot on.

      From your ill-advised screed, Wesley: “The GOP ought to realize their base was responsible for one of the most high profile riots in American history.”

      News Flash: That’s because the leftist mainstream media made the January 6 incident out to be more destructive than the riots in big cities after the George Floyd incident, most of which, individually and certainly collectively, killed and injured far more people and resulted in far greater property damage and loss of business than the January 6 incident at the United States Capital.

      Wake up.

      Further, it was hardly “their base.” I’m part of “their base” and would not have participated in the violation of federal laws and invading the capital chambers had I been in DC that day, although I would attended the rally.

  2. Let’s hope that no one will be murdered. Let’s hope that rights of individuals will be protected. Very interesting that so much protection is legislated for monuments. Can additional protection be enacted to better ensure the lives of citizens, even those arrested. Yes, crimes should be investigated, but murder, be it intentional or not, should not occur.

    Indianapolis seems to be the target with its monuments. And, frankly, the mall and vista from the Library looking south toward the WW monument, University Square and the Soldier’s and Sailor’s Monument in the distance is indeed remarkable and present a positive view of Indianapolis.

    Vandalism and rioting is wrong in every case, no matter where, when or the degree to which damage may occur.

    However, the attempted coup on January 6 in the nation’s capital was reported correctly, It was quite destructive to the Capitol. It was not destructive to the surrounding neighborhood. But what is clear about the insurrectionist coup is the attempted destruction of democracy and the peaceful transfer of power for which the United States has alway touted.

    The US is not a model of democracy and much is awry. Too many protests after George Floyd’s death were characterized by hooliganism and vandalism which distracted for the core issue of the protests for equal protection and again brutality. But the ongoing assault on civil rights by statute and laws targeting specific groups does nothing to ultimately improve governance. Nor will it deter massive destruction by a crazed mob.

    On the contrary, the (rightist ?) coup reflected a very dangerous assault on everyone’s freedom through a coordinated assault that results in deaths of officers and sent members of Congress scrambling.

    Leftist and Rightist are in the eye of the beholder as is the perception of what is being reported. Perception is not reality.

  3. Another solution looking for problem. All of these acts are already illegal. Just trying to “own the libs” in Indianapolis, or maybe support the Klan era monuments erected at the height of Jim Crow.

    Nice message from desperate white guys, or maybe just great political theater and nothing more.