Blocking roads could lead to terrorism charges under new plan

People are already protesting the proposed punishment.

ATLANTA — Last summer, protesters stood face to face on the street with troopers, and now there could be a terrorism charge for those same actions.

“We feel this is a direct infringement of  First Amendment rights," Andrea Young with the ACLU Georgia said.

Young is talking about protests like one in February at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Protesters were furious about changes to the country's immigration policy.

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Some lawmakers want to increase penalties for anyone who blocks a highway, street or even the sidewalk.

“This bill would punish individuals with a fine of up to $5,000 or 12 months in jail," Christopher Bruce with the ACLU said.


Part of the bill would also crack down on protests for a particular ideology, labeling some activity as terroristic in nature.

"We want to be hard and firm when it comes to domestic terrorism," State Sen. Lester Jackson, chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus said.

He has worked side-by-side with other lawmakers to make sure the message is clear: Georgians will act swiftly to prosecute and punish domestic terrorists, but still allow citizens the right to protest, wherever they want.

"Groups and entities about to have a peaceful protest, on our streets and bridges, wherever they chose to, we want everybody to abide by our laws, but we want to allow for peaceful protest." Jackson said.

The bill has already passed the Senate, and it’s working its way through the House, where lawmakers will continue to work on fine tuning the proposal with citizens' input.