Nassau County Executive Laura Curran has vetoed a bill approved by lawmakers earlier this month that would allow police officers to sue protesters and collect financial damages.
Curran said the bill is "well-intentioned" but it would inhibit residents' first amendment rights to free speech and protest.
“I’m proud of the dedicated first responders who’ve made Nassau the safest county in America, and I continue to stand firmly with the brave men and women of law enforcement, and against any efforts to ‘defund the police,'" Curran said in a statement Tuesday.
Lawmakers voted to approve the legislature earlier this month --- a move civil rights activists say is payback for demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis.
If Curran had not vetoed the bill, police officers and other first responders would have become a protected class under the county’s Human Rights Law, which currently bars discrimination based on race, religion, gender and sexual orientation. No other professions are protected under the Human Rights Law.
The bill would have allowed a lawyer for the Long Island county to sue protesters on behalf of officers and calls for fines of up to $25,000 for anyone who harasses, menaces or injures an officer. The fine amount would be doubled if the offending behavior happened “in the course of participating in a riot,” the bill says.