Felony and a camping definition proposed for Tennessee Capitol Hill protesters

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Protesters who might camp or vandalize on Tennessee’s capitol hill could face felony charges.

Its in a bill making weaving through legislative committees in what could be the last week of the lawmakers’ session.

“This would increase the penalty for defacement or damage to state property from class b misdemeanor to E felony,” said Tennessee House Majority Leader Monday morning to a House subcommittee.

The bill has been put in a category to be considered after lawmakers pass a state budget.

He sponsoring the bill as a late measure pushed by House Speaker Cameron Sexton.

Without protesters who have been on Tennessee’s Capitol Hill demanding action on racial injustices and police brutality, there would be no such bill upping penalties for what could happen at the demonstrations.

One lawmaker raised a question about who the protesters are.

“With the peaceful rallies that have been taking place, there has been out of state provocateurs, coming down causing damage to discredit the rallies,” stated Knoxville Rep. Rick Staples.

He asked House Majority Leader William Lamberth if those out of state protesters can be prosecuted.

“If they are charged with a felony, there is a much greater likelihood of transporting them back to Tennessee to face prosecution,” answered Rep. Lamberth.

Earlier, the House majority leader said the bill would clarify what is camping is on capitol hill property.

Tents, bedding, food and sleeping there are all part of the camping definition for now.


Stay with News 2 for continuing coverage of community unrest across Middle Tennessee:

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