US Protest Law Tracker

The US Protest Law Tracker, part of ICNL's US Program, follows initiatives at the state and federal level since January 2017 that restrict the right to peaceful assembly. For information about our methodology, click here. For more information and an analysis of this data, click here.

45 states have
considered
231 bills
36 enacted 52 pending

No initiatives
Pending, defeated or expired initiatives
Enacted initiatives

Legislation and executive orders

Latest updates: Sep. 7, 2021 (Alaska), Sep. 3, 2021 (North Carolina), Sep. 1, 2021 (North Carolina)
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6 entries matching in provided filters in 1 states.
Arizona

SB 1784: Heightened penalties for "riot," "unlawful assembly," and protests that block traffic

Would elevate the offence of "riot" from a Class 5 to a Class 4 felony, punishable by three years in prison. Arizona defines "riot" broadly under existing law, to include joining two or more other people and recklessly using or threatening to use force that "disturbs the public peace." The bill also increases the penalty for "interfering" with traffic on a public thoroughfare while engaged in an "unlawful assembly" or "riot." The offense, which is otherwise a misdemeanor, would be a Class 6 felony punishable by up to two year in prison. Finally, the bill requires that anyone convicted of "unlawful assembly," a Class 1 misdemeanor, pay "at least" $500 in fines. Arizona law defines "unlawful assembly" as joining a group of two or more people with intent to engage in conduct constituting "riot," or being present at such a group, knowingly remaining, and refusing to disperse. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 3 Feb 2021.

Issue(s): Riot, Traffic Interference

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Arizona

HB 2485: New Penalties for "Violent Or Disorderly Assembly" and for Protesters Who Block Traffic or "Deface" Monuments

Would create a broad new felony offense, "violent or disorderly assembly," for any person who joins a group of six or more people knowing that the group has one of a number of objectives; these include creating "an immediate danger" of property damage or personal injury; "substantially obstructing" government services; or "disturbing any person in the enjoyment of a legal right" if one person in the group then commits an "overt act" that furthers any of those objectives. The broad definition only requires action by one person in a protest; individuals could be charged with "violent or disorderly assembly" without doing anything other than gathering. The new offense is a Class 6 felony, punishable by one year in prison. The bill instates a mandatory, 12-hour detention for anyone arrested for the "violent or disorderly assembly," and requires that anyone convicted of the offense be barred from receiving any public benefits "including welfare or scholarships" or employment by a state or local entity. The bill makes "obstructing" a street or highway a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing "violent or disorderly assembly." The bill would similarly heighten the penalty for unintentional property damage occurring during a protest, providing that "reckless" damage to property in the amount of $250-$1,000 is a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing "violent or disorderly assembly." Using fireworks, "defacing" a monument or other public memorial, or being "indecent" or "offensive to the senses," are all elevated to a Class 6 felony if done while committing "violent or disorderly assembly." The bill would also add "violent or disorderly assembly" to the underlying crimes for Arizona's anti-racketeering statute. As a result, an participating in or being near a protest that is deemed a "violent or disorderly assembly" could lead to prosecution on felony racketeering charges. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 22 Jan 2021.

Issue(s): Conspiracy, Traffic Interference, Limit on Public Benefits

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Arizona

HB 2309: New penalties for "violent or disorderly assembly" and for protesters who block traffic or "deface" monuments

Would create a new felony offense, "violent or disorderly assembly," for any person who causes any property damage or personal injury with a group of seven other people, with the intent to engage in a "riot" or an "unlawful assembly." The new offense is a Class 6 felony, punishable by one year in jail. The bill instates a mandatory, 12-hour detention for anyone arrested for the "violent or disorderly assembly," and requires that anyone convicted of the offense be barred from obtaining public benefits or employment by a state or local entity. The bill would heighten the penalty for protesters who "recklessly interfere" with traffic on any "public thoroughfare," or who, after receiving a warning, intentionally interfere with and prevent access to a government meeting or political campaign event. The bill provides that such interference is a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing "violent or disorderly assembly." The bill would similarly heighten the penalty for unintentional property damage occurring during a protest, providing that "reckless" damage to property in the amount of $250-$1,000 is a Class 6 felony if it occurs while committing "violent or disorderly assembly." Likewise, using fireworks, or "defacing" a monument or other public memorial are both elevated to a Class 6 felony if done while committing "violent or disorderly assembly." (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 15 Jan 2021; Approved by House 3 March 2021

Issue(s): Riot, Traffic Interference, Limit on Public Benefits

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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 Covering, Riot

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Arizona

SB 1142: Expanded definition of "riot"

Would have substantially broadened the definition of "riot," from the reckless use or threat of force that disturbs the public peace, to such use or threat of force that either disturbs the public peace or causes property damage. Under the bill, organizers and protesters could be charged as conspirators, and bystanders could be held liable if they witness someone declare an intention to start a riot. The bill also adds "riot" to the list of offenses included under racketeering law, such that participating in or being near a riot could lead to prosecution on felony racketeering charges. The bill provides that prosecutors may seize a person's assets under civil forfeiture laws in addition to filing enhanced felony criminal charges. After the bill's approval by the Arizona Senate on February 22, 2017, the House of Representatives rejected the bill. (See full text of bill here)

Status: defeated / expired

Introduced 19 Jan 2017; Approved by Senate on 22 Feb 2017; House consideration denied 28 Feb 2017

Issue(s): Conspiracy, 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 Covering

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