Indiana: House Bill 1186 Protects the Police

Is HB 1186 firing a warning shot to the media and citizen journalists

Republican state lawmakers have found another way to protect the guilty while restricting the innocent. The Indiana Capital Chronicle was covering House Bill 1186 coming out of committee with a 13-0 passing:

House Bill 1186 says that people who “knowingly or intentionally” get within 25 feet of law enforcement officers doing their jobs would commit “unlawful encroachment on an investigation” if the officers have asked them to back off. The new crime would be a Class C misdemeanor.

“If there’s something that we can do [for] preventing that escalation, preventing the officer from being touched by someone who’s not even involved in the situation, I hope that this bill is the one to do it,” author Wendy McNamara, R-Evansville, told the House Courts and Criminal Code Committee.”

Who are lawmakers protecting

House Bill 1186 looks reactionary to all the police batterings and killing of citizens caught on video by bystanders and sometimes by the media. The lawmakers even mentioned it:

A supportive Rep. Mitch Gore, D-Indianapolis, expressed some concern for the rights of people recording video — which he said might warrant future legislation — but added that technology is good enough for distanced filming.

“[In] the George Floyd video, they were right up on the officer that murdered George Floyd, and that contributed to how visceral the video was and and the public outcry,” he said. “I think that’s important. [But] I think that technology is in a place where I don’t think we’ll miss much of what’s happening … so I kind of got over that part of it.”

I’m glad Mitch is okay with less accountability for the police when the police are killing more innocent civilians across the country. Hey lawmakers, the problem isn’t the bystanders filming the abuse – the problem is the police aren’t accountable for their actions. I’ve said before that if we remove qualified immunity and let lawsuits come out of their pensions, the police would screen their own.

The reporting by the Capital Chronicle is a much-needed service since the Gannett-owned IndyStar has died, just like Muncie’s The StarPress. For those keeping track, Gannett is now owned by a Japanese vulture capital company called SoftBank.


As for the proposed new law, the author of the bill sends her love to the media and citizen journalists who film on the scene when they witness abuse:

The bill has no exceptions for people recording interactions, or for members of the media. They’d also have to get outside the 25-foot zone, according to McNamara, the author.

“If you want to go 25 feet back and record everything you want to record, you’ll have the opportunity to do so,” McNamara told the Capital Chronicle after the committee. “You can do whatever you want, 25 feet back.”

It’s always nice to know our lawmakers have the backs of innocent civilians. We need more citizen journalists to cover the void left by dying media entities. Indiana lawmakers should encourage their participation in our dying democracy – not heckling or arresting them.

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Todd Smekens

Journalist, consultant, publisher, and servant-leader with a passion for truth-seeking. Enjoy motorcycling, meditation, and spending quality time with my daughter and rescue hound. Spiritually-centered first and foremost. Lived in multiple states within the USA and frequent traveler to the mountains.

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