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NYC Protestors Blockading Streets Could Be Charged Under ‘Domestic Terrorism’ as Per New Bill

A new bill introduced in New York City aims to designate intentionally blocking traffic on city streets as an act of “domestic terrorism,” sparking debate over the boundaries of protest and public safety.

Assemblywoman’s Proposal to Address Street Chaos

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Assemblywoman Stacey Pheffer Amato from Queens put forth the bill as a response to the disruptions caused by protests, particularly those linked to conflicts like the Israel-Hamas war.

Reelection Bid

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Amato’s reelection bid and the shifting political landscape in her district have drawn attention to the bill’s potential motives. 

The New York Post wrote, “insiders said the bill could be an effort to win over a district that has swung more conservative in recent years.”

Details of the Proposed Legislation

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The bill, if passed, would categorize blocking traffic as a class D felony, carrying a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. 

Its supporters argue that while protests are a right, they should not endanger lives or cause widespread panic.

Support from Co-Sponsor Assemblyman

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Assemblyman Sam Berger, also from Queens, has co-sponsored the bill, aligning with Amato’s efforts to address the disruptions caused by street protests.

Background of Street Disruptions

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Since the October 7, 2023, Hamas attack on Israel and subsequent events, public protests in New York City have frequently led to street blockades, disrupting rush-hour commutes and causing significant inconvenience for residents.

Response from Republican Councilwoman

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Republican Councilwoman Joann Ariola expressed cautious optimism about the bill, hoping it would address the issue effectively without being merely symbolic.

Context of Recent Legislative Efforts

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The proposed bill is part of a broader response to increased anti-Israel demonstrations and antisemitic activities in New York City following the October 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists.

Governor’s Support for Legislative Package

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Last month, Governor Kathy Hochul advocated for a legislative package aimed at expanding the state’s hate crime statute to cover additional offenses, including graffiti, arson, and assault.

Debate Over Balancing Rights and Public Safety

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As discussions continue around the proposed bill, the balance between protecting the right to protest and ensuring public safety remains a contentious issue in New York City’s political landscape.

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