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Bill would increase penalties for illegal camping, graffiti

Posted at 3:00 PM, Jun 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-15 22:07:02-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — As protests continue to pop up across the nation over George Floyd’s death, Tennessee’s House is seeking to significantly increase penalties against demonstrators who violate certain state laws.

The legislation is backed by House Speaker Cameron Sexton, a top Republican in the GOP-dominant Statehouse.

Sexton promised to bring the bill after a handful of protesters announced they would gather outside the state Capitol over the weekend and claim the area as an “autonomous zone.”

The group echoed similar sentiments of a much bigger action in a Seattle neighborhood that’s become a protest center against police brutality and racial injustice.

The demonstrators have remained on Capitol Hill for days. Camping on state grounds is currently illegal. However, the group has not been staying in tents, and law enforcement has not yet kicked them off of the property.