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Arizona lawmaker wants ban on masks after Phoenix Trump protest

Protesters raise their hands after Phoenix police used tear gas outside the Phoenix Convention Center, Tuesday, Aug. 22, 2017, in Phoenix. Protests were held against President Trump as he hosted a rally inside the convention center. (AP Photo/Matt York)

PHOENIX — An Arizona state lawmaker said he planned to introduce a bill that would ban people from wearing masks or hoods at protests after last week’s issues outside of President Donald Trump’s rally.

“If you believe in something enough to demonstrate, if you believe that that’s your thought, you should be proud enough of what you think and what you believe to show your face,” Republican Rep. Jay Lawrence said this week.

Lawrence said masked people at protests have shown a tendency to defy police orders, which is what led to police using tear gas, pepperballs and smoke bombs to disperse an unruly crowd in downtown Phoenix last week.

Antifa was wearing masks, hoods and throwing things at police officers,” he said.

Lawrence said he has been outraged at other televised protests, such as those in Berkeley, Calif., that have ended in violence in recent months.

“I and many Americans have become angered at watching television and seeing thugs in hoods and masks throwing bottles of urine at police, refusing to move when police tell them to move,” he said.

“We’ve seen them burning automobiles, we’ve seen them fighting with people, we’ve seen them burning flags, we’ve seen them refusing to allow conservative speakers on campuses.”

The state lawmaker was not just concerned about Antifa, however. He said he doesn’t want people supporting hate groups to be unidentifiable.

“The Ku Klux Klan has appeared at some of these demonstrations, cheering on conservatives,” he said. “I don’t want them wearing hoods, either.”

Lawrence said he supported the right to protest. He doesn’t, however, feel they should be allowed to hide their face when committing criminal acts or supporting hate groups.

“I believe that all of us have a right to express the way we feel,” he said. “I do not believe we have the right to express violently the way we feel.”

Lawrence said he planned to introduce the bill in January, when the state Legislature reconvenes.

Editor’s note: Lawrence was a longtime host on KTAR News 92.3 FM.

KTAR’s Tom Perumean contributed to this report.

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