Bill SB 1142 was intended as a security measure against peaceful protests turning into riots. By expanding the definition of rioting to include the destruction of public and private property, this bill would allow police and prosecutors to charge people with conspiracy ahead of any actual event while permitting them to go after the assets of those they believe were involved in planning a demonstration. However, due to the aggressive nature of this bill, people were immediately skeptical and afraid of how easily it could be abused.
The opinion of the public was that this carefully crafted bill would not only be a limit to the fundamental right to freedom of speech and peaceful protest but also a way of targeting those whose political opinions do not reflect the current majority’s. Overall, the alarm from the general public was so intense that House Speaker J.D. Mesnard shut down the bill. Mesnard stated that “You can’t have that many people, whether it does or doesn’t, believing that we’re, in this bill, taking away people’s rights. It [public opinion can’t drive a decision, but it can certainly be a factor in it.” For more on the story see Arizona Legal News site the Arizona Daily Sun.