Protesters think they could be silenced under proposed bill - CBS46 News

Protesters think they could be silenced under proposed bill

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(Source: WGCL) (Source: WGCL)
ATLANTA (CBS46) -

CBS46 has learned that protesters think they could soon be silenced under a new "domestic terrorism" bill being proposed. 

Lawmakers tell us they're trying to reflect modern times with more precise definitions.

Right now, if someone tries to blow up a bridge or critical infrastructure in Georgia, that's not considered domestic terrorism under Georgia law. If someone tries to kill fewer than 10 people, that is not considered domestic terrorism.

One lawmaker is trying to change that, but the language is what's troubling to some who say they could be accused of domestic terrorism when they're just protesting.

Mary Hooks has organized and participated in many Black Lives Matter protests. She believes in the right to organize, but she's troubled by the bill that would redefine domestic terrorism in Georgia.

She sees it as backlash.

"Backlash against folks who have been protesting over the last few years," says Hooks.

"Walking across a bridge or blocking traffic, that is not a terrorist act, certainly defined by the current law or this new law in any manner," says Majority Leader Bill Cowsert. "In many ways this could protect these types of groups."

But Hooks is concerned because in the new definition, the attempt to kill, or kill, or damage infrastructure has to be tied to an "ideology" to quality as domestic terrorism.

She thinks that could be interpreted broadly.

"People that are trying to make the country live up to the values it claims to have in terms of democracy," says Hooks.

"This isn't aimed at just any Islamic jihad ideology," says Cowsert. "It could be any ideology. It can be white supremacy trying to harm [a] Black Lives Matter movement."

And that's exactly how Shirley Smith sees this new bill -- as a good idea that will keep Georgians safe.

"I think it's really to protect us from people that do harm," says Smith.

Hooks heads to speak to college students about their rights and the concern over what matters mixes with words that matter in helping protect Georgians from "domestic terrorists."

The majority leader says the bill would also encourage better reporting and cooperation between local, state and federal law enforcement, as well as create a separate Department of Homeland Security.

It will be heard in the State Senate on Wednesday.

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