Cheokas, Silcox pass bills to crack down on rioting

Published 11:52 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

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House Republicans on Wednesday passed legislation that would protect Georgians by toughening penalties for rioting. House Bill 505 by Rep. Mike Cheokas (Americus) would increase the charge for rioting to a felony instead of a misdemeanor, and Rep. Deborah Silcox’s (Sandy Springs) House Bill 500 would specify that arson of a law enforcement vehicle is punishable with a $100,000 fine and 5 to 20 years in prison.

“Our nation has suffered a surge of violence since 2020, and we’ve seen how permissive policies have emboldened dangerous criminals,” said Speaker Jon Burns (Newington). “Mike and Deborah and many others in the House are leading to protect Georgians from acts of violence. I know our friends in the Senate and Gov. Kemp share our desire for a strong response, and I look forward to seeing these bills signed into law.”

Cheokas pointed out that the need for a crackdown on rioting goes beyond public safety.

“Riots endanger lives and property and also damage economic development,” said Cheokas. “We take these threats seriously, and this legislation sends a clear message that rioters who endanger the lives and livelihoods of Georgia citizens can expect to be punished.”

Silcox said her bill stands up for both law enforcement and taxpayers.

“Images of an Atlanta police car burning were beamed across the nation after recent riots, and we must take action to stop that from happening again,” said Silcox. “By mandating a significant penalty for burning a police car, we’re showing our brave law enforcement officers that we will not let rioters target them, as well as standing up for the taxpayers who fund these vehicles.”