Bill in Washington legislature would make it a felony to deface monuments

Abe Lincoln Statue 1 (1)
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OLYMPIA, Wash. — After watching protesters destroy monuments in other parts of the country, a group of Washington senators wants to increase the criminal penalties for people who deface public monuments.

Sen. Jeff Holy from the Spokane area is one of the sponsors of Senate Bill 5059. It relates to “protecting state and federal monuments, memorials and statues from damage intentionally inflicted during the course of unpeaceful demonstrations or riots.”

The bill changes the language on an existing law from mentioning state monuments to including all public monuments. That includes properties owned by the state, the federal government, institutions, political subdivisions, and municipal and quasi-municipal corporations.

The crime would go from being a misdemeanor to being a Class C felony.

The defacing and toppling of statues has been more common along the east coast and in the south, where statues of confederate generals still stand.

Last fall, protesters in Seattle threw paint on a statue of Washington’s second governor.

In November, vandals threw red paint on a statue of Abraham Lincoln in downtown Spokane. It’s not clear, though, if that crime would fall under this bill, as it didn’t happen in the course of a protest or demonstration.

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