NY state senate passes bill making it a felony to 'annoy' the police

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While you were feeling outraged about the NSA spying on Verizon (and, most likely, every other phone company's) customers, you may have missed a very troubling bit of news from New York state.

From the NY state senate website:

Senate Passes Bill Making the Harassment of a Police Officer a Crime

The New York State Senate today passed a bill that creates the crime of aggravated harassment of a police or peace officer. The bill  (S.2402), sponsored by Senator Joe Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) would make it a felony to harass, annoy, or threaten a police officer while on duty.  

Before you (justifiably) freak out, note that in order for this atrocious bill to become law, the New York state assembly would have to also pass it, and then the governor would have to sign it. It is not current law. But it is a frightening display of authoritarian impulse, coming at a very troubling time.

The relevant text of the bill reads:

A  PERSON  IS  GUILTY  OF AGGRAVATED HARASSMENT OF A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER WHEN, WITH THE INTENT TO HARASS, ANNOY, THREATEN OR  ALARM A PERSON  WHOM HE OR SHE KNOWS OR REASONABLY SHOULD KNOW TO BE A POLICE OFFICER OR PEACE OFFICER ENGAGED IN THE COURSE  OF PERFORMING HIS OR HER OFFICIAL DUTIES, HE OR SHE STRIKES, SHOVES, KICKS OR OTHERWISE  SUBJECTS SUCH PERSON TO PHYSICAL CONTACT.

While assaulting an officer is already a crime, this weaponization of the widely abused ‘resisting arrest’ charge would tack on an additional four years to any prison term per ‘harassment’ charge, as well as imprint the scarlet letter tattoo of a felony conviction on any person at the receiving end of it. It is, in other words, a very big deal.

Imagine you are at a protest in New York City, events that arguably 'annoy' the police in the extreme. Say the police approach you and ask you to stop filming them. Now imagine that you refuse, and an officer reaches out to grab your camera. If you make the slightest movement that disturbs the officer's hand while saying 'Get your hands off me!', you could theoretically, if this bill becomes law, be charged with a felony and imprisoned for four years.

Alternatively, picture yourself in the shoes of the young man in the video above.

Defending the bill, Senator Griffo said “We need to make it very clear that when a police officer is performing his duty, every citizen needs to comply and that refusal to comply carries a penalty.”

Comply with racist stop and frisks, with a smile on your face, or else. And whatever you do, don’t ‘annoy’ the police. 

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