GOP bill toughening protest penalties moves to House floor

Protest organizers could be financially and criminally liable if their event leads to property damage in Minnesota under a proposed bill.

The House Public Safety committee advanced the Republican-backed bill Wednesday over objections from Democrats and civil rights groups. Republicans argue the bill would help prevent damages to public infrastructure and hold groups who encourage people to break the law accountable.

But critics say the bill could chill protests.

American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota Director John Gordon says judges and juries will struggle interpreting the law. He says it will lead to constitutional challenges.

A similar measure advanced last year following months of protests over police officer-involved shootings but was later dropped during budget negotiations. The House bill will now head for a full floor vote.