GOP Representatives Propose Doubling Federal Punishment for Rioting

June 4, 2020 Updated: June 4, 2020

Legislation to double the penalties applicable in incidents of rioting, looting, and other acts of violence against people and property was introduced June 4 in the House of Representatives by two North Carolina Republicans.

Rep. Ted Budd (R-N.C.) told The Epoch Times on June 4 that “anyone with a soul is outraged by the death of George Floyd, and peaceful demonstrations that are in support of justice for George Floyd are absolutely appropriate.”

“But rioting is never the answer. Our streets, our businesses, our communities, they can’t be terrorized. You don’t avenge the death of George Floyd by looting a Target.”

Budd was referring to the May 25 death of Floyd, an unarmed black man being forcibly detained by a Minneapolis policeman, who has since been charged with second-degree murder. Three other officers present during the incident have also been charged in connection with Floyd’s death.

“All Americans are rightfully outraged by the death of George Floyd. The peaceful demonstrations against racism in the wake of his death are totally appropriate,” Budd said in a statement announcing the proposal.

“If you engage in rioting, you disgrace the cause you claim to fight for, and you should be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Co-sponsoring the bill with Budd is Rep. Dan Bishop (R-N.C.), who issued a statement earlier this week critical of state and local officials who haven’t enforced existing laws against rioters as dozens of U.S. cities have experienced street violence, property destruction, and lethal assaults on law enforcement officers.

“It is incomprehensible that when George Floyd cried out in distress, those officers brutalized him instead of helping him. But in city after city, governors and mayors compound the tragedy by turning our streets over to looters and rioters,” Bishop said.

“This misguided attempt to appease criminals never succeeds, and its victims include the voices of law-abiding protesters and the livelihoods of innocent business owners. It also callously exposes our overwhelmed police to grave risk.”

Known as the “No Toleration for Rioters Act of 2020,” the Budd–Bishop bill doubles the jail time to be served by convicted rioters under federal law to 10 years from 5 years.

Thousands of rioters, many associated with the radical far-left Antifa, which President Donald Trump has described as “a domestic terrorist group,” have created mayhem in more than 30 cities since Floyd’s death.

Hundreds of rioters have been arrested and at least two law enforcement officials have been killed during the violent activities, including a Federal Protective Service officer protecting a government building in Oakland, California, and a retired St. Louis police captain shot while guarding a friend’s business from marauding looters.

Pre-positioned stores of bricks and Molotov cocktails have been found in multiple cities across the country, evidence that anti-terrorism experts say indicates pre-planned efforts to co-op peaceful demonstrations such as the Floyd protests.

Asked about Trump’s vow to classify Antifa as a domestic terrorist group, Budd said, “When I drive around downtown Charlotte, and I see [firsthand] the news like everyone else watches, that’s terrorism.”

Budd recalled the violent protests in the hours after Trump’s inauguration in 2017, noting that “I saw a fraction of this in Washington, D.C., on inauguration day and shortly thereafter. I saw burning cars on the street; that’s terrorism, so it is absolutely appropriate.”

At that time, rioters set several vehicles ablaze and broke store front windows in the downtown area of the nation’s capital.

Budd praised Trump’s response to the riots. “When you look at what he’s done, he’s always been for the rule of law. I think he’s done well.”

Budd said Trump “can be a bit abrasive at times, but you look at the content of what he’s done, he protects people no matter their ethnicity.”

Contact Mark Tapscott at Mark.Tapscott@epochtimes.nyc.