Protection of monuments, memorials, and statues

The House Courts and Criminal Code Committee heard SB 187 on protection of monuments, memorials, and statues, sponsored by Rep. Lehman.  The bill does the following:

  • States the policy of the state of Indiana regarding the protection of monuments, memorials, and statues.
  • Requires the state police department to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of persons who destroy, damage, vandalize, or desecrate a monument, memorial, or statue.
  • Requires the state police department to assist political subdivisions in the investigation and prosecution of persons who destroy, damage, vandalize, or desecrate a monument, memorial, or statue.
  • Provides that it is state policy to withhold state support relating to public spaces for political subdivisions that fail to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues and from political subdivisions that have failed to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues from destruction or vandalism.
  • Provides that a person who knowingly destroys, damages, vandalizes, or desecrates a monument, memorial, or statue owned by the state or a political subdivision or that is located on real property owned by the state or a political subdivision commits monument desecration, a Level 6 felony.
  • Provides that a court may suspend only that part of a sentence for monument desecration that is in excess of the minimum sentence for that offense.

The Committee amended the bill by consent to do the following:

  • Require the state police department to prioritize the investigation and prosecution of persons who destroy, damage, vandalize, or desecrate a monument, memorial, or statue; require the state police department to assist political subdivisions in the investigation and prosecution of persons who destroy, damage, vandalize, or desecrate a monument, memorial, or statue.
  • Provide that discretionary funding for a political subdivision may not be withheld from a political subdivision in certain circumstances.
  • Provide that a state agency may provide discretionary funding to a political subdivision for a respective grant program after considering whether the political subdivision has taken all appropriate enforcement actions to protect public monuments, memorials, and statues from destruction or vandalism.
  • Define “discretionary funding”.
  • Add enhanced penalties to the crime of rioting.

The Indiana Public Defender Council testified against the amended bill and the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council testified in support of the amended bill.  The amended bill passed 9-3.

Read the bill at:  http://iga.in.gov/legislative/2021/bills/senate/187