Wisconsin committee approves bills to punish rioters

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - The Assembly judiciary committee has approved a package of legislation designed to crack down on riots.

The bills define a riot as a public disturbance during a gathering of at least three people that includes intentional violence or an intentional threat of immediate violence. Participants could be charged with a felony. Anyone who uses a dangerous weapon during a riot also could be charged with a felony. Blocking a thoroughfare during a riot would be a misdemeanor.

The committee approved the Republican bills Thursday despite warnings from the panel's two Democrats that the language is too broad and could lead to prosecutors charging peaceful prosecutors.

Rep. John Spiros and Sen. Van Wanggaard, both former police officers, introduced the bills in response to riots that followed a police shooting in Milwaukee last year.
 

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