TN Governor Signs Bill Increasing Punishment for Certain Forms of Protest

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee (R) has signed into law a a bill that increases punishment for some forms of rioting and protests, including illegally camping on state property and blocking highway access to emergency vehicles.

House Bill 8005 was signed on Thursday and sponsored by  William Lamberth, (R-OR) House Republican Majority Leader, went into effect immediately.

Camping on state property will now be classified as a Class e felony as opposed to a misdemeanor.

1-6 years in prison could result and those who are convicted felons could lose their right to vote and have a gun.

The ACLU spoke out against the Bill.

ACLU of Tennessee Executive Director Hedy Weinberg issued a statement saying “We are very disappointed in Governor Lee’s decision to sign this bill, which chills free speech, undermines criminal justice reform and fails to address the very issues of racial justice and police violence raised by the protesters who are being targeted.”

He added “While the governor often speaks about sentencing reform, this bill contradicts those words and wastes valuable taxpayer funds to severely criminalize dissent.”