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Approaching Police Under “Certain Circumstances” Will Be Criminalized In New Louisiana Law 

A new Louisiana law makes it a crime to approach within 25 feet of a police officer under certain conditions, raising concerns that it could hinder the public's ability to film officers and hold them accountable. Signed by Gov. Jeff Landry, the law imposes penalties of up to a $500 fine or 60 days in jail for those who knowingly approach an officer engaged in official duties after being ordered to stop. 

Critics argue it may infringe on First Amendment rights by limiting how close individuals can get to observe police. Proponents claim it ensures officer safety while allowing enough proximity for filming. Similar laws have faced legal challenges; for instance, Arizona's attempt to restrict filming was blocked by a federal judge for being unconstitutional. 

The Louisiana law, authored by state Rep. Bryan Fontenot, aims to provide officers with a safe distance to perform their duties without interference. Despite concerns, the law includes a defense clause for those who did not receive or understand the order to stop. 

With a conservative governor and a GOP-majority legislature, the bill passed easily after a similar bill was vetoed last year by former Gov. John Bel Edwards. Critics like Edwards argue the measure is unnecessary and could suppress First Amendment rights.

“Each of us has a constitutional right to freely observe public servants as they function in public and within the course and scope of their official duties,” Edwards, who served in the U.S. Army and was the son of a sheriff, said in last year’s veto message. “Observations of law enforcement, whether by witnesses to an incident with officers, individuals interacting with officers, or members of the press, are invaluable in promoting transparency.”

The new Louisiana law criminalizing approaching police within 25 feet is a dangerous step backward for accountability and transparency. This legislation, signed by Gov. Jeff Landry, not only threatens First Amendment rights but also creates a barrier between the public and the officers meant to serve them.

Let's push for the repeal of this restrictive law and work towards building a system where accountability and transparency are prioritized over suppression and control.

Link: AP News


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