Dallas, TX – Texas Governor Greg Abbott announced a proposal for harsher penalties against rioters and looters during a speech at Dallas Police Association headquarters on Thursday.
Abbot followed Florida’s lead from earlier in the week and proposed anti-antifa legislation to deter people from participating in violent protests and riots at anti-police demonstrations.
The governor’s bill would make it a felony to cause injury or destroy property during a riot, KTVT reported.
His proposal included a mandatory minimum jail sentence for anyone who assaults a law enforcement officer during a riot.
In his speech, Abbott referenced the recent incident in Los Angeles where Black Lives Matter and antifa protesters blocked access to the emergency room after two Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies had been shot, KTVT reported.
The governor said that under his proposed legislation, anybody who blocked a hospital entrance or exit would be charged with a felony.
He said his proposal also made using fireworks during a protest or a riot a crime that could lead to jail time, and he vowed to make it a felony for people to aid or incite riots by offering financial assistance to rioters, KTVT reported.
“Some people participate in riots without ever being there,” Abbot explained. “What they do is they aid and they abet riots with funds or organizational assistance. This will be a felony that will lead to jail time.”
“We also proposed giving the attorney general the power to pursue civil penalties against people in organizations that assist in riots,” he added, according to KTVT.
The governor said his proposal would keep suspects arrested for riot-related offenses in custody until their first court appearance in an effort to avoid the “catch-and-release” situation they had during the George Floyd riots during the summer.
“This will prevent the mockery of the revolving-door arrests that we saw in Dallas during the riots that occurred early this year and will ensure that these dangerous rioters will not be immediately released back onto the streets to engage in further riots without first having to go before a court appearance,” Abbott said explained to the police union.
The governor’s announcement came one day after the Dallas City Council voted to fund the police department budget except for $7 million in overtime, KTVT reported.
The city council said they will put $4 million of it into hiring civilians for the police department and the rest will go into other public safety initiatives.
Dallas Police Association President Mike Mata cautioned that changes to the Dallas PD should happen constructively, KTVT reported.
“Do we have to change our profession? Are there things that we need to fix?” Mata asked. “Absolutely. But they need to be done in constructive ways. If we’re going to take money from police departments, we should not be taking money because somebody is yelling and screaming telling us we should.”