A Northern Illinois Democrat State Representative has filed a bill that would make it a crime to protest within 300 feet of a school zone while school is in session.
48th District Democrat Terra Costa Howard of Glen Ellyn filed House Bill 4151 on Tuesday that would make it a crime to orally protest, pass out flyers or handbills, carry a sign, or protest within 300 feet of a school zone during school hours.
It amends the 2012 state Criminal Code that creates the the offense of disorderly conduct in a school zone. Provides that a person commits the offense when an individual knowingly displays signs, engages in oral protest, education, or passing leaflets or handbills with 300 feet of school premises from one hour prior to the start of the school day until one hour after the school day ends. It also says that if an individual knowingly approaches within 8 feet of an individual who is within 300 feet of school premises for purposes of displaying signs, engaging in oral protest, education, or passing leaflets or handbills, from one hour prior to the start of the school day until one hour after the school day ends. The bill does not exempt students staging protests and/or walk outs.
The offense would be considered a Class A misdemeanor, which is the most serious misdemeanor charges in the state. Anyone found guilty of a Class A misdemeanor could receive up to 364 days in county jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
If the bill passes, it would take effect immediately.
The bills filing comes at a precarious time when student-led protests have occurred in Marion, North Mac, Homewood, and most recently at a private school in Lisle on topics ranging from same-sex marriage, racism, and quarantine and/or mask mandates due to COVID-19.
The bill has already received 7 Democratic co-sponsors.