Kentucky Republicans Seek To Legalize Use Of ‘force’ Against Homeless Trespassers

Aiexpress – Critics have accused a recently introduced bill in the Kentucky legislature, backed by Republicans, of attempting to legalize “deadly physical force” in certain situations involving the homeless.

The “Safer Kentucky Act” bill, also known as HB5, was recently introduced in the Kentucky legislature by Republican state representative Jared Bauman. With 52 co-sponsors already on board, the bill is set for a vote next week. While the bill covers various provisions, its anti-homeless measures have drawn significant criticism from opponents.

HB5 contains provisions that consider the use of force against homeless individuals camping on private property as “justifiable” if the property owner suspects criminal trespassing, robbery, or “unlawful camping” is taking place. Additionally, the bill deems the use of “deadly physical force” as justified if the defendant believes a homeless person is trying to “dispossess” or steal their property, or engage in arson.

While introducing the bill, Bauman defended its provisions and stressed that HB5 aims to prioritize “accountability for serious criminal behavior.” However, critics have cautioned that it may lead to unnecessary violence and loss of life.

During the event where Bauman presented the bill, Louisville Councilwoman Shameka Parrish-Wright emphasized the potential consequences of HB5, suggesting that it could effectively criminalize poverty. Louisville, known for having the highest rate of violence in Kentucky, with 6.9 violent crimes per 1,000 residents as reported in May 2023. Mayor Craig Greenberg acknowledged the need for a solution but expressed skepticism about whether HB5 is the appropriate measure to address the issue.

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“There is a widely shared agreement that Louisville is facing a significant issue with violent crime,” mentioned Mayor Craig Greenberg in an interview with The Courier-Journal newspaper. “However, there is less agreement on the most effective approach to address this problem.”

“We are unfortunately going to put lives at risk,” expressed Lyndon Pryor, the CEO of the Louisville Urban League, in a candid interview with Vice. “As a society, we have made the unsettling decision to deem certain individuals unworthy of basic respect and dignity, allowing us to subject them to utterly inhumane treatment.”

Eric Tars, the senior policy director at the nonprofit National Homelessness Law Center, expressed deep concern over the potential rise in vigilantism against individuals facing homelessness. According to Tars, this escalation is unprecedented and worrisome.

The chances of HB5 passing in the Kentucky state legislature are high due to the significant Republican majorities in both branches. Despite having a Democratic governor in Andy Beshear, the strong GOP presence in the legislature gives them the power to override any potential veto from him.

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