Legislature’s HB 291 would criminalize protesting at private homes, including those of state officials

Protesters gather outside the private residence of Utah State Epidemiologist Angela Dunn Oct.29, 2020 after her personal information was leaked online. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah, Feb. 3, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — A Utah lawmaker is sponsoring a bill that, if passed, could make it illegal for protesters to demonstrate at private residences.

Rep. Ryan D. Wilcox, who represents House District 7, which includes parts of Weber County, is sponsor of House Bill 291, which would make “targeted residential picketing” a misdemeanor.

“Picketing means the stationing or posting of one or more individuals to apprise the public, vocally or by standing or marching with signs, banners, sound amplification devices, or other means, of an opinion or a message,” HB 291 says.

The bill was introduced Tuesday and had its first reading before the House Rules Committee.

Utah State Rep. Ryan D. Wilcox, district 7. Photo: house.utah.gov/rep/WILCORD

“Residence” is defined as a dwelling that is not being used as the occupant’s “sole place of business or as a place of public meeting.”

The house bill suggests that targeting a residence means gathering on the sidewalk or street of the residence or on either side of the residence, or within 100 feet of the property line of the focus residence.

“Targeted residential picketing is a class B misdemeanor,” the bill suggests.

The bill comes after protesters gathered last year outside the private residences of then Gov. Gary Herbert, current Gov. Spencer Cox, who was Utah’s lieutenant governor at the time, and of state epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn, who is not an elected official.

All the protests were by people unhappy with the state’s COVID-19 restrictions.

Utah Epidemiologist Dr. Angela Dunn said protesters were at her home October 20, 2020 after her personal information was leaked online. Photo: Gephardt Daily/Patrick Benedict


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