Abbott calls for increased penalties for rioting in legislative proposal

Talk 1370 Newsroom
September 24, 2020 - 2:14 pm
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott

Ricardo B. Brazziell/American-Statesman via USA TODAY NETWORK


DALLAS ( -- Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced a new legislative proposal Thursday aimed at enhancing penalties for rioting and those who otherwise attempt to assault law enforcement while protesting.

Abbott, speaking at the Dallas Police Association's headquarters, was joined by Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen.

"The Constitution guarantees the right to assemble peaceably," Abbott said. "The Constitution does not provide the right to riot, to rob, to loot, to set fires, to physically harm anyone or anything. Texas will always defend the First Amendment right to peaceful protest, but Texas is not going to tolerate violence, vandalism or rioting."

Abbott's proposal includes increased penalties for causing injury or destroying property during a riot, a minimum six-month jail sentence for assaulting a law enforcement officer, and jail time for blocking hospitals, using fireworks at protests and riots, and potentially penalties against those who "assist" in riots, including providing financial or organizational support without directly participating.

All of the proposals will have to be passed by the Texas Legislature next session, which begins in January.

Thursday's proposals are the latest in a series of efforts related to public safety. Abbott previously pushed back against efforts by cities to defund local police departments, proposing a freeze on property tax revenues and a proposal that would strip away annexation powers from cities that defund their police departments.

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