The Tennessee House chamber last week approved the Mercenary Rioter Act which aims to ensure protests remain peaceful. House Bill 881 increases penalties for those who are paid to participate in riots and those who come from outside the state with intent to commit a criminal offense and riot.
This legislation makes it a Class E felony and increases the punishment for aggravated rioting to a mandatory minimum sentence of 45 days imprisonment for one offense or 60 days for two or more offenses.
Tennessee law defines a riot as three or more individuals inciting a violent disturbance that creates grave danger of substantial property damage, serious bodily injury, or obstruction of law enforcement or government functions. The bill passed in the Senate chamber in March. It now heads to the governor’s desk for his signature.