Wednesday, February 24, 2021 1:35 pm

Pinal lawmaker wants to outlaw ‘violent assembly,’ punish cities if they cut police budgets

Rep. Bret Roberts, R-Maricopa, explains his concerns about legislation to require mandatory prison terms for anyone who sells fentanyl, no matter how small the amount/

Howard Fischer/Capitol Media Services

A former Pinal County constable and detention officer thinks he’s found a way to prevent peaceful protests from turning violent: new criminal penalties.

And he separately wants to put a kibosh on any consideration by city and county officials of reducing police budgets by providing financial penalties for communities that do.

Rep. Bret Roberts, R-Maricopa, said he supports the First Amendment right to march and assemble. But he said what’s happened both in Arizona and elsewhere shows that it doesn’t remain within the confines of what’s legal and proper.

“It’s become the norm, any time something happens where people are upset, they think it’s OK to go out and destroy property and things of that nature, assault police officers and this kind of stuff,” he told Capitol Media Services.

His HB 2309 would create a new crime of “violent or disorderly assembly.”

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