Participating in or being near a riot could lead to prosecution on felony racketeering charges and property seizures under a proposal advanced by an Arizona Senate committee Thursday, reports the Associated Press.

Sen. Sonny Borrelli, R-Lake Havasu City, said his measure is needed to add deterrence to existing laws against rioting. His proposal adds rioting to the organized crime statutes, saying an overt act isn’t needed to prove conspiracy to riot and adds property damage to the rioting law.

Opponents said it is so broadly written that it could ensnare innocent people and chill free speech rights.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 4-3 for the measure with all three Democrats on the panel opposed.

The main hammer in Senate Bill 1142 would allow prosecutors to seize a person’s assets under civil forfeiture laws in addition to filing enhanced felony criminal charges. Borrelli said it’s important to deter violent riots and go after groups that pay protesters. He cited no evidence that protesters have been paid.

 

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