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Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed into law legislation that provides longer jail times for protesters who block traffic.
The law also prohibits community colleges and state universities from restricting students’ “noncommercial expressive activity,” according to Your West Valley.
That was the original intent of the bill — HB 2548 — but a provision was added in its final form that would give judges the authority to impose stiffer sentences to those who stop traffic from entering political rallies, government meetings or hearings.
It was crafted in response to an incident in March when presumptive Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump and his supporters were prevented from entering a rally in Arizona.
The law, which takes effect on August 6, ups the penalty for those who block traffic in certain circumstances from 30 days and a $500 fine, to six months and a $2,500 fine.
“These bills protect free speech throughout our college campuses and also ensure an individual’s right to engage in free speech isn’t shut down by someone else who disagrees with his or her perspective,” Ducey said in a prepared statement.
The increased penalty should help, according to Ducey’s press aide Daniel Scarpinato.
“That hopefully will create deterrent for people intruding on others’ abilities,” he said.
“There’s a balance here of everyone getting their voice heard,” Scarpinato added. “And if someone is physically preventing someone from participating in exercising their constitutional rights, that is unacceptable.”
Some complain that the provision restricts free speech. Sen. John Kavanagh, who crafted it however, had a different take on it.
“To stop somebody from going to a political rally to hear a candidate is not furthering the First Amendment,” he said. “It is suppressing that person’s First Amendment right to assembly.”
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The following video was taken from a Trump rally in Chicago where BLM protesters blocked an ambulance:
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