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Democrat lawmaker proposes changing the definition of 'riot' after her colleague gets arrested for rioting

In response to Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott's arrest for felony rioting in Louisville, her colleague in the legislature, Democratic Rep. Lisa Willner, has proposed changing the legal definition of what a riot is.
Libby Emmons Brooklyn, NY

In response to Kentucky state Rep. Attica Scott's arrest for felony rioting in Louisville, her colleague in the legislature, Democratic Rep. Lisa Willner, has proposed changing the legal definition of what a riot is.

Willner's plan is to change the current definition, which says that a riot involves more than five people in a public disturbance "which by tumultuous and violent conduct creates grave danger or damage or injury to property or persons or substantially obstructs law enforcement or other government function."

As reported by WRDB, Interim LMPD Chief Robert Shroeder said Friday during a press conference that "Under Kentucky's riot statue, anyone who is part of a group causing damage or riotous behavior, is subject to the charge of rioting. It does not require an individual to actually have participated in the destructive act."

It was under this legal understanding that Scott was arrested and charged on first-degree rioting, as well as unlawful assembly and failure to disperse for her attendance at a riot on Thursday night. This was the day after a grand jury declined to indict LMPD officers in the shooting death of Breonna Taylor.

According to police, Scott was part of a group that set fire to a library, damaged other structures, and refused to disperse when police told them to. Scott replied that the charge that she set fire to a library was "ludicrous," and that the arrest was made when she and her daughter were heading to a nearby church to find sanctuary.

That church was reported to be offering refuge to those who were out past curfew and unable to get home. Scott said "LMPD swarmed us. They started yelling 'circle 'em, 'circle 'em.' They wouldn't let us leave and go back to our vehicle. And they wouldn't let us literally cross the street to get to the church and sanctuary."

She said that she was out protesting with her daughter, and were heading to the church in their car, when officers blocked the street, so they parked, and attempted to get to the church. It is unclear why they didn't drive their car back home, given that curfew was approaching. Scott said officers made the arrest in advance of curfew.

Willner made her announcement that she would propose a bill to change the definition of a riot on Sunday, at a Jefferson Square Park press conference. This is where protests—and riots— have been localized over the past few months.

Willner said that an arrest like Rep. Scott's "cannot happen again." What precisely she proposes to change the definition to is not clear.

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