Will Ohio increase penalties for protest behavior?

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Protestors block a car with Ohio House Speaker Larry Householder in it from leaving the Federal Courthouse after Householder’s initial hearing following charges against him and four others alleging a $60 million bribery scheme Tuesday, July 21, 2020, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The GOP-controlled Ohio House has approved legislation increasing penalties associated with behavior at protests.

The bill is one of four General Assembly proposals introduced following last year’s protests over racial injustice and police brutality.

The measured passed Friday expands the definition of obstructing justice in Ohio to include failure to follow a lawful order or diverting a law enforcement officer’s attention.

It goes next to the Ohio Senate, where similar legislation is being considered.

Opponents, including the Ohio chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, call it an effort to discourage free speech and the right to protest.

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