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NJ lawmaker says rioters — not taxpayers — should pay for damage

Police wearing riot gear try to disperse a crowd  in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)
Police wearing riot gear try to disperse a crowd in Ferguson, Mo. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Legislation sponsored by Assemblyman Ron Dancer, R-Monmouth, would increase penalties for rioting and force rioters to pay for damage that they cause.

Dancer says everyone supports the idea that as Americans we have a right to speak out.

“Peaceful protests, which we all agree with, is part of our Democracy.”

Dancer calls himself an advocate of peaceful protest. “But when protestors become rioters, and they destroy private property, storefronts, I think that we have all seen national media accounts and pictures of riots that just destroy businesses.”

He says he did some investigative work with respect to what is the law in New Jersey, when there is a riot.

“What I found, to my dismay and surprise, was that the taxpayers are liable. I could not believe it. So I asked the Office of Legislative Services to do the research, and put together legislation for me that I could introduce, that would make the rioters accountable and responsible for the destruction of private businesses during a riot.”

He says when a peaceful protest becomes a riot and protestors destroy property, they should be held accountable. Dancer’s bill (A-4777) increases jail time for rioting from 18 months to five years, and increased fines from $10,000 to $15,000.

“Once it hits $2,000 worth of damage, the individuals that were rioting are going to be held accountable, and if convicted, will be required to have restitution, pay back to the property owner the cost.”

He says rioters should foot the bill, not taxpayers.

Joe Cutter is the afternoon news anchor on New Jersey 101.5

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