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'Domestic anarchy' bill targets rioters intent on social chaos and mayhem

“These people who are just trying to create violence and anarchy in our communities need to be held accountable,’’ Rep. Lynn Afendoulis said.

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — A bill has been introduced that gives prosecutors the option to charge rioters with a more serious felony labelled “domestic anarchy.’’

The bill, introduced June 24 by state Rep. Lynn Afendoulis, comes more than three weeks after rioters damaged scores of businesses and government buildings in downtown Grand Rapids.

Costs associated with the riot, including damage and police overtime, top $2 million. That number is expected to grow.

“These people who are just trying to create violence and anarchy in our communities need to be held accountable,’’ said Afendoulis, R-Grand Rapids Township. 

Thirteen adults and a 16-year-old girl have been charged with riot, a 10-year felony. They also face lesser charges, including malicious destruction of property.

Afendoulis says riot, a 10-year felony, is not enough.

"We wanted to increase the penalty to give the law teeth,’’ Afendoulis said. “We wanted to make sure prosecutors have another tool in their tool belt.’’

Under House Bill 5900, an act of ‘social or domestic anarchy’ would be punishable by up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Offenders also are liable for civil damages.

Afendoulis originally intended to call the legislation ‘social or domestic terrorism,’ but says anarchy is more fitting.

‘‘Social or domestic anarchy,’’ according to the bill, is an act that is dangerous to human life or destructive to property.

It includes acts that are intended to “intimidate or coerce a civilian population or influence or affect the conduct of government or a unit of government through intimidation or coercion.’’

“This is not just a one-night thing,’’ she said. “The event might be one night, but the impact of this is a very long time.’’

The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

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