US Protest Law Tracker

The US Protest Law Tracker, part of ICNL’s US Program, follows initiatives at the state and federal level since November 2016 that restrict the right to peaceful assembly. For information about our methodology, click here.

45 states have
considered
222 bills
31 enacted 69 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation and executive orders

Latest updates: May. 4, 2021 (North Carolina), Apr. 30, 2021 (Alabama, Texas), Apr. 28, 2021 (Arkansas, Tennessee)
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18 entries found matching the provided filters.
US Federal

HR 6054: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

The “Unmask Antifa Act of 2018” would make it a federal crime, subject to a lengthy prison sentence, to wear a mask or other disguise while protesting in a “threatening” or “intimidating” way. Under the act, anyone who “injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person” while “in disguise, including while wearing a mask” could be sentenced to up to 15 years in prison as well as fined. The bill explicitly exempts police and other law enforcement agents, stating that “nothing in this section shall be construed so as to deter any law enforcement officer from lawfully carrying out the duties of his office.” The name of the bill, introduced by Republican Rep. Daniel Donovan and supported by Reps. Peter King, Ted Budd, and Paul Gosar, refers to the leftist anti-Fascist movement, some members of which have worn masks during protests. The bill expired with the close of the 115th Congress on January 3, 2019. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Jun 2018.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Arizona

SB 1033: Felony penalty for protesters who conceal their identity

Would heighten the penalties for an individual convicted of participating in an unlawful assembly or a riot, if the individual "obscures or hides the person's identity with a mask, disguise, makeup, or other device" during the event. Under the bill, conviction for unlawful assembly (a Class 1 misdemeanor) would become a Class 6 felony if committed while wearing a mask, punishable by up to two years in prison. Conviction for riot (a Class 5 felony) would become a Class 4 felony if committed while wearing a mask and subject to up to four years in prison. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 13 Dec 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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Arizona

HB 2007: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

**HB 2007 was signed into law following amendments that removed the most restrictive provisions.** As originally introduced in the House, the bill made it a felony to wear any kind of disguise at a protest. The introduced bill broadly prohibited disguises, “whether partial or complete,” that an individual wore at a protest, political event, or any other public event in order “to evade or escape discovery, recognition or identification.” Under the introduced bill, police would have had authority to detain any individual wearing a disguise in order to verify his or her identity and determine if the person had committed a crime; violation of the disguise ban would have been a Class 6 felony, subject to one year in prison. The sponsor of the bill said it was inspired by clashes between police and protesters, some of whom were masked, outside a 2017 rally for President Trump. Following widespread criticism, the bill was comprehensively revised to a single provision that would allow courts to consider it an aggravating factor, for sentencing purposes, if an individual wore a mask or other disguise to hide their face while committing a criminal offense. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted with improvements

Introduced 21 Nov 2017; Governor Ducey signed it 23 March 2018 but the most problematic provisions were defeated.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Indiana

SB 78: Increased penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would enhance the penalty for a person who commits a "public order offense" while wearing a mask. Public order offenses include disorderly conduct, unlawful assembly, and rioting--generally all misdemeanors. The bill provides that if a person committed such an offense, the prosecutor may seek an additional prison term of up to 30 months if the state can prove that the person intentionally concealed their identity by wearing mask or other face covering. The same bill was initially introduced in January 2018 as SB 73. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 3 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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Kansas

HB 2612: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would create the crime of concealing one's identity during a public demonstration. The bill provides that wearing a mask, hood, or any other device that “covers any portion of the face to conceal the identity of the wearer” while participating in a public demonstration or protest would be a Class A misdemeanor, if done to intimidate another person or while engaged in any unlawful activity. Accordingly, a protester whose identity was masked by a facial covering and who committed some other infraction could be sentenced to a year in jail or a fine of up to $2,500, or both. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Feb 2018; Died in committee 4 May 2018

Issue(s): face coverings

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Kentucky

HB 53: Eliminating driver liability for hitting protesters

Would eliminate all liability for drivers who injure or kill a protester who is blocking traffic. The bill creates a new Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail, for interfering with traffic on a public road during a protest for which a permit has not been granted. Under the bill, a motorist who injures or kills an individual who is interfering with traffic during such an event cannot be held criminally or civilly liable, unless the action was intentional. The bill, prefiled as BR 305 on October 24, 2017, also prohibits the wearing of face coverings and bearing of weapons near a public protest. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Jan 2018.

Issue(s): driver immunity, face coverings

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Kentucky

BR 175: Criminalizing face coverings and weapons near protests

Would create new penalties for wearing masks or protective gear, or carrying a weapon near a public protest. According to the prefiled bill, an individual within 500 feet of a protest may not wear a mask, hood, helmet, or other facade that “covers any portion of his or her face.” Likewise, individuals within 500 feet of a protest may not wear protective gear such as shields or armor, nor carry a deadly or dangerous weapon. Under the bill, commission of either act comprises “disruption of a public protest,” punishable as a Class A misdemeanor with up to twelve months in jail and a $500 fine. BR 175 was ultimately withdrawn, but its provisions on "disruption of a public protest" were included in HB 53 at the beginning of the 2018 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 24 Aug 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Kentucky

HB 488: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a class D felony to wear a mask, hood, or other device to conceal one's identity at a public protest, demonstration, or march in order to escape recognition when committing a crime. As such, a protester wearing a mask who committed a relatively minor crime, such as traffic interference, could face this offense, which is punishable by a minimum of one year and up to to five years in jail. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 2 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Massachusetts

HB 1588: Prohibition on masked demonstrations

Would compel the immediate dispersal of a demonstration or other assembly of people wearing masks or other disguises. The bill provides that if a group of five or more individuals who are "masked or in any manner disguised by unusual or unnatural attire or facial alteration" assemble together, authorities should command them to disperse. If the assembly does not immediately disperse, they are deemed a riot or unlawful assembly and the authorities can compel anyone present to help "suppress" the assembly and arrest those participating. The bill makes no exception for religious or festive attire. Nor does it require any malicious intent by those assembling or conduct beyond wearing masks and assembling in a group. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 17 Jan 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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Missouri

HB 179: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would criminalize intentionally concealing one’s identity while participating in an “unlawful assembly” or rioting. Under the bill, a person who intentionally conceals his or her identity “by the means of a robe, mask, or other disguise” while engaged in an unlawful assembly could be charged with a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a year in jail. The bill exempts identity-concealing coverings for the purposes of religion, safety, or medical needs. The Missouri legislature’s website indicates that wearing a “hood” would also be included in criminalized coverings, although this language does not appear in the current wording of the bill. The bill expired with the end of the 2017 legislative session. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 4 Jan 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Montana

HB 571: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a felony offense to conceal one's identity by wearing a mask for the purpose of avoiding identification while committing an offense against public order. Concealing one's identity in this situation is punishable by up to five years in jail or a fine of $5,000. In Montana, an offense against the public order includes minor and broadly defined crimes like creating a public nuisance or disorderly conduct, meaning a protester who wore a mask and was charged with one of these crimes could also face a felony offense under this bill. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 27 Feb 2017.

Issue(s): face coverings

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North Dakota

HB 1304: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Prohibits the wearing of masks, hoods, or other device that “conceals any portion” of an individual’s face while committing a criminal offense, in order to avoid recognition or identification. As drafted, the offense could encompass, e.g., individuals wearing hooded clothing while participating in a protest and also committing a minor offense such as jaywalking. Under the law, commission of the offense comprises a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $3,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: enacted

Introduced 12 Jan 2017; Governor Burgum signed it 23 Feb 2017

Issue(s): face coverings

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Ohio

HB 362: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would broadly prohibit the wearing of masks or other disguises in certain circumstances during protests. Like HB 423, introduced in the 2017-2018 session, the bill criminalizes the wearing of a mask or disguise to intentionally "obstruct the execution of the law," "to intimidate, hinder, or interrupt" a person who is performing a legal duty, or to prevent a person from exercising rights granted to them by the Constitution or laws of Ohio (such as the right to assemble). Under the bill, commission of "masked intimidation" as defined by any of the above would be a first degree misdemeanor, subject to up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. According to its sponsors, the bill originated out of concerns about violent confrontations caused by masked protesters. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 8 Oct 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Oregon

HB 4126: Harsh penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a Class B felony to “partially or fully conceal[]” one’s face while engaged in a riot, in order to “facilitate commission” of the riot. A Class B felony in Oregon is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The bill would also direct courts to consider an individual’s concealment of their face an aggravating factor during sentencing. Under Oregon law, a person can be convicted of rioting if “while participating with five or more other persons the person engages in tumultuous and violent conduct and thereby intentionally or recklessly creates a grave risk of causing public alarm.” Given the vagueness of the underlying riot definition, extreme penalties such as those envisioned in the bill could have a chilling effect on nonviolent protesters who want to remain anonymous or use a mask to make a political or social statement. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 28 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): face coverings, riot

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Rhode Island

H 7543: New Penalties for Protesters Who Conceal Their Identity

Would make it unlawful for a person to wear protective equipment, such as a "gas mask", "kneepads", "riot helmets", "face visors", or "vests" during a demonstration, rally, or parade. It also bans wearing "a mask or disguise with the specific intent to intimidate or threaten another person". A violation of the Act would be punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $1000 fine. The broad language in the Act could be used to ban a range of masks and equipment that could be part of the expressive component of a demonstration. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 12 Feb 2020.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Tennessee

SB 1750: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would penalize protesters who wear masks or other face coverings. As introduced, the bill would make it a criminal offense for a person to wear a mask, hood, or device that covers a portion of their face and intentionally conceals their identity, on public property or private property without the owner’s permission. The bill does not require that the person be committing some other unlawful act while concealing their identity. The offense would be a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. The original version of the bill includes four exemptions: “traditional holiday costumes;” “lawfully engag[ing] in a trade, profession, occupation or sporting activity” that requires a mask, hood, or other device; theatrical productions, parades, and masquerade balls; and gas masks. Other expressive, First Amendment activity is not explicitly exempted. The bill was withdrawn the day after it was introduced. A co-sponsor of the bill said that it was "intended to target protesters and demonstrators who might commit crimes,” and that they would file a “clarified version" of the bill soon. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 21 Jan 2020.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Washington

SB 5941: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would prohibit a person from “wearing a mask, hood, or device where any portion of the face is covered as to conceal the identity of the wearer” when they are on public or state-owned property – including, e.g., during a protest. Under the bill, commission of this offense is punishable as a gross misdemeanor. State Senator Jim Honeyford said he sponsored this bill in response to vandalism and violence that he believes occurs “under the guise of political speech,” that threatens citizens’ “safety and welfare.” (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 May 2017; reintroduced 8 January, 2018.

Issue(s): face coverings

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Wisconsin

AB 617: New penalties for protesters who conceal their identity

Would make it a crime to wear a mask to conceal one's identity when an individual is on a sidewalk, walkway, bike path, highway, or public property. It also makes it a crime to be masked while participating in a "meeting or demonstration" on private property without the permission of the property owner. There are exceptions for wearing a mask for religious beliefs, a holiday costume, protecting oneself from the elements, or because it is part of one's occupation. However, there is no exception for wearing a mask during a demonstration. The offense is a Class A misdemeanor punishable by up to 9 months in jail or a $10,000 fine. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Nov 2019.

Issue(s): face coverings

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For more information about the Tracker, contact Elly Page at EPage@icnl.org.