HB 22 seeks to change definition of obstruction of justice in Ohio

A Cleveland police cruiser burns behind three men.
A Cleveland police cruiser burns behind three men.((Source: Cleveland Division of the FBI))
Published: Jun. 25, 2021 at 12:35 PM EDT
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - An Ohio House bill concerning protest behavior is one step closer to becoming law.

The proposed bill seeks to change the definition of obstructing justice.

Republican lawmakers voted House Bill 22 out of committee Thursday, according to a report from the Associated Press.

If passed, you could face legal consequences, such as a second-degree misdemeanor, for “failure to follow a lawful order, diverting a law enforcement officer’s attention or throwing an object at a law enforcement officer.” That’s bumped to a fifth-degree felony if the action creates a risk of physical harm, AP reports.

The bill was introduced on Feb. 3, 2021 by Republican Representatives Jeffrey LaRae and Shane Wilkin, several months after wide-spread protests erupted across the United States, including Cleveland, following the murder of George Floyd.

HB 22 is one of four bills proposed by the Ohio GOP aimed at criminalizing or increasing penalties associated with behavior at protests, according to the AP.

The AP said critics of the bill raised concerns of vague and broad language, leading to a substitute version of the bill.

The new version “removed the words ‘harass’ and ‘annoy’ and added an amendment to clarify that it does not prohibit a person from using audio or video recording equipment to record a law enforcement officer in the course of their duty,” AP reports.

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