New Bill Would Force D.C. Protesters to Pay for Police, Unlawful Conduct

Activists could foot bill for illegal antics

Police carry signs used by protesters and police tape as activists advocating for new policies to combat global climate change close an intersection
Police carry signs used by protesters and police tape as activists advocating for new policies to combat global climate change close an intersection / Getty Images

Congress is set to consider a bill that would force Washington, D.C., protesters who snarl the city's traffic and drain police resources to pay for their actions.

Following a Monday protest in D.C. by activists pushing action on climate issues, Rep. Jim Banks (R., Ind.) told the Washington Free Beacon he will introduce new legislation in Congress that would force protesters arrested at demonstrations in the city to pay for police overtime, as well as any other expenses stemming from their impromptu protests.

"Illegal protests harm public discourse," Banks told the Free Beacon. "We need to hold illegal protesters accountable and let taxpayers off the hook for subsidizing their illegal activity."

"One of the side effects of this bill," Banks said, "is that it would cause groups like Antifa to pay police for their unlawful counter-protest."

"I think this bill is common sense, so I think it'll get bipartisan support," Banks said. "People in New York, Michigan, etc. don't want to subsidize illegal protests in D.C."

Monday's climate protest saw demonstrators blocking streets around D.C. as workers commuted to their offices. Protesters could be heard screaming "shut it down" and were filmed parading in streets heavily trafficked by the city's workforce.

"Under my bill, a person will be responsible for public safety response costs incurred by the District of Columbia's response to a demonstration if, in connection with the demonstration, the person is convicted of a felony or misdemeanor offense," Banks said in tweets on the subject.

The bill he is preparing would "force protesters arrested at demonstrations in D.C. to pay for police overtime and other fees related to the action."

"Washington, D.C. collects over $4 billion in federal funding," Banks tweeted. "Hoosier taxpayers shouldn't be on the hook for illegal protests—it is a violation of their 1st Amendment rights."

Banks said the bill would not seek to hinder any person's First Amendment rights and the legislation would not impact activists who obtain proper permits for their activities.

"To be clear, my bill will not prohibit other demonstrations or protests on the National Mall like the annual March for Life or Women's March," Banks said. "Those protests are legal because they obtained official permits. My bill would only apply to illegal protesters who are arrested."