Long Island county executive vetoes bill letting police sue protestors

The bill would have made police and first responders a "protected class" under the county's anti-discrimination law.
The remains of a scorched police vehicle lie vandalized during riots in the Fort Greene neighborhood in the Brooklyn borough of New York on May 29, 2020.

After seeking guidance from New York State Attorney General Letitia James, Nassau County Executive Laura Curran vetoed a bill that would have let police officers and other first responders sue protestors who injured, attacked, or harassed them because of their job.

"The guidance provided by the New York State Attorney General raises issues about the constitutionality of the proposed law, which would inhibit residents' rights to free speech and protest," Curran said in a statement.

"The proposed bill is well-intentioned, but should not come at the costs of the basic First Amendment freedoms that we all enjoy as Americans," she continued.

Last week, the legislature of the Long Island county approved the bill, 12-6, The Hill reported. It would have made first responders a "protected class" under the county's Human Rights Law, which prevents discrimination on bases of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, as well as other factors. However, following the bill's veto, professions are not currently included.

If the bill had been implemented into law, it would have given authority to the county attorney to sue protestors on behalf of first responders who requested financial damages for "discrimination," according to The Hill. For "aggrieved" first responders, civil penalties would have been up to $25,000, "and up to $50,000 if the violation occurred during a riot."

Curran reached out to the attorney general's office following the passage of the bill to "review and provide some advice," The Hill reported.

She also said she would "continue to stand against defunding the police," and that her administration is "committed to protecting the brave men and women of law enforcement who keep us safe."

Over 200 people were in attendance of a public meeting at the legislature's chambers to discuss the bill. Those opposing the bill said it was in retaliation of Black Lives Matter protests against police misconduct, while its supporters said it would give extra protection to police officers facing "destructive riots and lawlessness" that targeted law enforcement after George Floyd's death, according to The Washington Post.

The county legislature's Republican majority spokesperson, Chris Boyle, told NBC News that "Majority legislators are currently discussing next steps."