DES MOINES, Iowa — Republicans in the Iowa Senate on Monday passed legislation that would enact harsher penalties for some protest-related offenses and strengthen legal protections for police officers.
The Senate approved SF 342 in a 27-18 vote. The bill now heads back to the House.
The bill expands qualified immunity for police and would also make it a crime to not stop for an unmarked police vehicle.
Republicans say the legislation would help deter future rioting.
“We want to make the penalties significant enough that rational people will think twice about going out and violating the law. That’s not a difficult concept,” said State Sen. Julian Garrett, R-Indianola.
Democrats in the Senate voted against the bill.
“Ultimately this is a bad deal. It’s a bad deal for cops. It’s a bad deal for the safety of our communities, and it’s a missed opportunity to learn from racial disparities in arrests,” said State Sen. Nate Boulton, D-Des Moines.
Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement also condemned the legislation, releasing the following statement:
“With the passage of this bill, elected officials in the Iowa Senate have chosen to double down on racism, white supremacy, and attempts to silence dissent. We cannot let this continue.
Elected leaders from both parties spent this legislative session trying to pass racist bills that attack protestors and threaten community safety. The passage of SF 342 is clearly an attack on protestors with the statewide movement for Black liberation, who protested for months to demand racial justice and true public safety.
Protest and dissent are human rights. This bill will make us all less safe, but it will not keep us out of the streets. If Governor Reynolds thinks that signing this bill will stop protests, she’s wrong. The movement for a more just Iowa will continue, no matter how much state legislators try to silence dissent.”Iowa Citizens for Community Improvement