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TPF Condemns Kentucky Senate Attempt to Criminalize Provocative Speech Towards Police Officers

Updated: Mar 19, 2021

The bill, which flies in the face of the First Amendment, considers deriding and provoking law enforcement a misdemeanor.


March 17, 2021

NEW YORK — On Thursday, the Kentucky Senate passed the Community and First Responder Protection Act (KY SB211), a bill that would criminalize provocative speech towards police officers. State Sen. Danny Carroll (R), who sponsored the bill, classified offensive speech as being “obviously designed to elicit a response.” The bill would also promote steady or increased funding to law enforcement and place increased restrictions on protestors. This bill violates the First Amendment right to free speech.

“Nothing could be more dangerous to a free society than to criminalize verbal opposition to the excesses of a police state,” said Harvard constitutional law expert and Teens for Press Freedom consultant Laurence Tribe in an exclusive interview. “Attempting to outlaw nonviolent resistance to police authority renders us all the victims of dictatorship. The First Amendment cannot be reconciled with this novel attempt to suppress resistance. This is both outrageous and unconstitutional.”

Teens for Press Freedom condemns this development as an attack on the First Amendment that sets a dangerous precedent for further censorship. We urge Kentucky lawmakers to repeal and reject this legislation. We call on our high school-age counterparts to defend their freedoms by contacting their representatives to ask them to pass countering laws.


Contact us at for more information on how to contact your representatives.

Click here to read the bill. Click here to read PEN America’s research into the criminalization of protest in the U.S. And read more about PEN America’s brief on government scrutiny of the Black Lives Matter movement here.

For more information on Teens for Press Freedom or our stance, contact


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