An anti-fascist counterprotester at a Patriot Prayer rally. (Courtesy/Wikimedia Commons)
Rioters who conceal their faces with masks would face increased penalties under a bill that’ll be introduced in the upcoming legislative session.
Sponsored by Rep. Sherrie Sprenger, R-Scio, the bill is aimed at the “alarming increase of violent riots in Oregon,” according to a statement.
In recent years, Portland has seen a rise in heated political protests that have erupted into street brawls or riots. The confrontations have typically involved right-wing demonstrators squaring off with anti-fascist (commonly referred to as “Antifa”) counter-protestors who often wear masks.
“As a former Sheriff’s Deputy, I know how important it is for law enforcement to be able to accurately and swiftly identify those who are involved in inciting these riots and committing crimes,” said Sprenger in a statement.
Noting the difficulty law enforcement faces in responding to these situations, the statement pointed out that former Portland Police Chief Danielle Outlaw called for a similar policy last summer.
According to the statement, about 15 other states and some local governments across the country have similar laws.
The statement notes that the bill would not out-law masks, but would increase penalties if someone conceals their face with the intent to riot. Rioting is currently a Class C felony and the bill would bump the offense up to a Class B felony if someone wears a mask to conceal their identity while committing the crime.
In Oregon, a Class B felony is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a Class C by 5 years.
The upcoming legislative session, which begins in February, will last for 35 days and is expected to be dominated by a greenhouse gas-reduction bill.
Contact reporter Jake Thomas at 503-575-1251 or [email protected] or @jakethomas2009.