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Bill Prioritizing Protection Of Monuments Headed To Governor

Union supporter at Black Lives Matter rally.

Legislation requiring local governments to prioritize protection of monuments, statues and commemorative property is likely a reaction to 2020's Black Lives Matter protests. (Justin Hicks/IPB News)

Local governments in Indiana must prioritize protecting monuments and statues or risk losing funding if the governor signs a bill approved by the Senate Thursday.

The measure, SB 187, is likely a reaction to last year’s Black Lives Matter protests. It requires the Indiana State Police to prioritize investigating anyone who vandalizes or damages monuments, statues or commemorative property, public or private.

So, what does “prioritize” mean?

“It does not mean make it their highest priority," said Sen. Eric Koch (R-Bedford), the bill's author. "It just means to include among their priority the investigation of these crimes.”

READ MORE: How Do I Follow Indiana's Legislative Session? Here's Your Guide To Demystify The Process

If local governments are deemed not to adequately protect monuments, statues and the like, the state could cut off some funding to them.

Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) said the GOP’s priorities are mixed up.

“Lives are being lost, children are suffering and we’re protecting monuments,” Taylor said.

The measure also makes it easier to charge rioters with a felony by classifying riots as a felony if they cause at least $750 of damage and at least five people are involved.

The Senate sent the bill to the governor with a 36-10 vote.

Contact reporter Brandon at bsmith@ipbs.org or follow him on Twitter at @brandonjsmith5.

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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