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Indiana representative proposes bill to ban convicted protesters from federal unemployment aid

U.S. Rep. Jim Banks introduced the 'Support Peaceful Protest Act' on Friday.

WASHINGTON — Indiana Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) has proposed a bill that would prevent people convicted of a federal crime during a protest from receiving federal unemployment assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Banks introduced the “Support Peaceful Protest Act” on Friday. The bill would also require convicted protesters to pay for the cost of federal policing of the demonstration.

The Republican congressman said it would strip rioters of enhanced federal benefits like unemployment money from the CARES Act passed into law to help Americans amid the coronavirus outbreak. 

He said it would include arrested rioters who were caught committing crimes like acts of violence, looting or vandalism. 

But the bill's text said individuals convicted of federal offenses during protests, which could be more broad than violence, looting or vandalism, would be held financially liable.

Credit: AP
Rep. Jim Banks, R-Ind., poses for a ceremonial swear-in on Capitol Hill, Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019 in Washington during the opening session of the 116th Congress. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

“Antifa thugs are descending on suffering communities, disrupting peaceful protests and leaving violence, looting and vandalism in their wake. They turned Milwaukee, Seattle and Portland into warzones, and now they’re moving the chaos to Kenosha, Wisconsin. Who knows which community is next?” Banks said in a press release. “Due to enhanced federal benefits, taxpayers are giving wages to jobless rioters that are destroying our communities. We need to cut them off from their funding and make them feel the full financial consequences of their actions.”

The bill states the individual must pay an order of restitution to the appropriate law enforcement agency in an amount that is equal to the cost of policing the activity, as well as the penalty for conviction. That's in addition to the ineligibility for federal supplemental jobless compensation given during the pandemic.

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