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Ohio lawmakers pass revised obstruction of justice bill that protects right to film officers

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Posted at 4:37 PM, Jun 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-25 17:22:06-04

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Lawmakers in the Ohio House of Representatives Friday passed a revised version of a bill that added language protecting the right to record video and audio by those attending rallies and demonstrations.

The substitute HB-22 that expands the definition of obstruction of justice was approved Thursday by the House Committee on Criminal Justice by a vote of eight republicans to five democrats and recommended for approval by the full House where it was passed Friday by a vote of 61 to 32.

Read the full text of the revised HB-22 here.

Proponents of the bill said the measure was needed to protect both police and the public during demonstrations by expanding Ohio obstruction of justice laws to include failure to follow a lawful order by police, depriving an officer of control over a subject or throwing an object or substance at police.

The measure was met with considerable opposition by Civil Rights and First Amendment groups who feared it would allow police to arrest demonstrators for obstruction of justice simply by using their cell phone to video police—citing the value of cell phone video in recording the death of George Floyd and subsequent successful prosecution.

RELATED: Proposed law making cell phone video of cops a crime moves forward by Ohio legislators - note: story was written before HB-22 was revised.

As a result, the bill was revised to specifically include that nothing shall be construed to prohibit a person from using video or audio recording equipment to record a law enforcement officer in the performance of their duties.

Language that included taunting police was also removed from the revised legislation.

The bill passed over continued objections among Democratic lawmakers.

The measure must still be approved by the Ohio Senate and signed by the Governor before becoming law.

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