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(H.R. 421, 90th Cong., 1st Sess., as passed by the House on July 19, 1967) AN ACT To amend title 18 of the United States Code to prohibit travel or use of any facility in interstate or foreign commerce with intent to incite a riot or other violent civil disturbance, and for other purposes
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That (a) title 18 of the United States Code is amended by inserting, immediately after chapter 101 thereof, the following new chapter:
“Chapter 102.-RIOTS “$ 2101. Riots
“Whoever travels in interstate or foreign commerce or uses any facility in interstate or foreign commerce, including the mail, with intent to
“(a) incite a riot, or to organize, promote, encourage, or carry on a riot, or to commit any act of violence in furtherance of a riot, or to aid and abet any person in inciting a riot or committing any act of violence in furtherance of a riot, and
"(b) thereafter performs or attempts to perform any overt act specified
in paragraph (a), shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years, or both. “8 2102. Definitions
“For purposes of this chapter:
“(a) A riot is a public disturbance, involving acts of violence by assemblages of three or more persons, which poses an immediate danger of damage or injury to property or persons.
"(b) The term 'to incite a riot, or to organize, promote, encourage, or carry on a riot' means urging or instigating other persons to riot, but shall not mean the mere advocacy of ideas or the mere expression of belief. "2103. Preemption
“Nothing contained in this chapter shall be construed as indicating an intent on the part of Congress to occupy the field in which any provisions of the chapter operate to the exclusion of State or local laws on the same subject matter, nor shall any provision of this chapter be construed to invalidate any provision of State law unless such provision is inconsistent with any of the purposes of this chapter or any provision thereof."
(H) The table of contents to “Part I.--CRIMES" of title 18, United States Code, is amended by inserting after "101. Records and reports....
2071" a new chapter reference as follows:
Passed the House of Representatives July 19, 1967.
W. PAT JENNINGS, Clerk.
Mr. McMillan. I certainly want to thank all of you gentlemen for taking your valuable time to assist us with this proposed legislation. We have Representative Scott of Virginia here with us this morning. Mr. Scott, would you like to make a statement at this time?
STATEMENT OF HON. WILLIAM L. SCOTT, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Mr. Scott. Mr. Chairman. As your subcommittee knows, the 8th District of Virginia is near the District of Columbia and, in all probability, more of my constituents work in the District of Columbia than in any other area. I introduced a companion bill to prohibit riots and incitement of riots, H.R. 12721, in the interest of the constituents whose safety would be endangered by a riotous outbreak in the Capital and also because of the concern we all have for the
preservation of law and order in our Nation's Capital. I might add, Mr. Chairman, because I have lived in the Washington metropolitan area since 1934, I have an added interest in the welfare of our Capital city.
But the interest of Congress in preserving the serenity of the Capital goes beyond those in the immediate area. Washington is not just another metropolitan area. It is the nerve center of the country and of much of the world. At a time when events in the world are so finely balanced we cannot afford the national danger, notoriety, and adverse international effect which would accompany a riot here.
I would like to call your attention to the language of my bill which specifies that a riot shall be defined as a public disturbance in volving an assemblage of three or more persons which by tumultous and violent conduct or the threat thereof creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons.
If I might add, Mr. Chairman, I understand that an anti-Vietnam rally is scheduled for the District on October 21. I would urge the speedy enactment of the necessary anti-riot legislation.
Thank you, sir.
Mr. McMillan. Mr. Scott, we deeply appreciate your taking your valuable time, as I am certain everyone realizes how busy on Capitol Hill at the present time. We thank you for taking your time, as I say, to come here and giving us your opinion on the proposed legislation.
We all appreciate your introducing the bill that is pending before this committee.
Mr. SCOTT. Thank you.
Mr. McMillan. I certainly agree with you, I think everyone should realize that there is only one reason that the District of Columbia was created, and that was to see that the officials of the Federal Government had an opportunity to transact the Nation's business without interference by anyone. I certainly hope that we can impress upon all of the law enforcement officers, police, and everyone else, that this is the only reason we have a city called the District of Columbia.
We must see that there are sufficient tools to protect the people who are here on official business.
Mr. Scott. I certainly share your expression.
Mr. NELSEN. I have no comment except to thank my colleague for his interest. I am in agreement with the Chairman that law and order certainly should be a prime requisite in our capital city. We are always concerned about the prestige of the United States of America, and we should be. Certainly, there should be no one that would be opposed to any legislation that deals with the preservation of law and order, in order to maintain that prestige that we talk about.
So I want to thank my colleague for his interest.
STATEMENT OF HON. JOEL T. BROYHILL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF VIRGINIA
Mr. Broyhill. Mr. Chairman, I wish to state at the outset that during the fifteen years I have served as a member of the House District Committee, we have never been called upon to consider proposed legislation of deeper significance and greater importance to the citizens of the District of Columbia and of the entire nation, than these bills we have before us today.
We all must be deeply concerned by the recent outbreaks of riolence that have swept incontrolled like a pestilence, an ebbtide of disorder and death, through the streets of many major cities throughout this nation . . . an unholy alliance of mayhem, rioting, and looting. While the immediate victims of this reign of terror are the innocent bystanders, law-abiding citizens, and helpless shopkeepers, in the larger sense we are all being victimized by this epidemie of violence and lawlessness which has set back the progress toward improved racial relations in this country for many years.
During a period of four months beginning last April first, no fewer than 19 of these bloody riots erupted in as many different U.S. cities. with an appalling loss of many millions of dollars in destruction and looting of property, and a shameful toll of death and injury to inpocent citizens. And persistent rumors have come to me that the District of Columbia is scheduled to be the victim of such a riot in the near future.
These outbreaks of lawlessness that have become a scourge throughout this nation are not spontaneous in their origin. They are conceived in the twisted minds of the hate-mongers, a trained cadre of professional agitators who operate in open defiance of law, order, and decency. They prey on discontent, and incite to acts of anarchy the poor, the under-privileged, the weak, and the uneducated. Moving among these people, the dregs of our society, these insidious enemies of our democratic form of government preach a cant of hate and contempt for law and order.
Mr. Chairman, these are not the legitimate champions of the underprivileged. They do not offer hope, for their doctrine brings about the destruction of hope. They offer no help for the poor, but disrupt all sincere efforts to bring such help. They seek only to control the minds of the hapless and the discontented, to further their own poisonous aim of spreading disorder and death. They create fear wherever they go, and feed with delight on this fear.
These fomenters of hate, who seek to destroy this country, deal with impunity in insurrection and the techniques of anarchy: They train other malcontents in the art of destruction, and conceal weapons in their homes, headquarters, and places of business. They write detailed training tracts on the manufacture and use of fire-bombs and Molotov cocktails. They plot the destruction of the sincere civil rights leaders, and of all law and order, with zeal and with devotion to stealth and secrecy.
All too often, these vultures of our society carry on their nefarious work on funds provided by the very tax-payers whose lives and property they threaten. Such a case occurred right here in the Nation's capital in August of last year, in connection with a riot in the Anacostia section of the city. I am reliably informed that United Plan
ning Organization funds had been utilized by one of the community groups in Anacostia which included in its undisclosed activities instruction in the making and use of Molotov cocktails. These very weapons were subsequently transported to the scene of the rioting. Fortunately, these bombs were not used, and of course no public disclosure of their presence on the scene was ever made.
The activities of these professional trouble-makers can never be brought under control until meaningful laws are enacted and enforced, to provide swift and certain punishment for those who seek by this means to destroy our country.
At the present time, the District of Columbia has no law which could be used effectively to deal with persons engaging in or inciting others to engage in rioting in the streets of this city. The portions of the D.C. Code dealing with disorderly conduct would be woefully inadequate for this purpose, and yet that is all that exists today as a legal weapon for the protection of the law-abiding citizens of the District in the event of such a catastrophe.
On July 19 of this year, the House approved H.R. 421, a bill designed to provide adequate legal means of dealing with the perpetrators of these organized conspiracies when interstate commerce or travel is in any way involved. At that time, I proposed an amendment to the bill which would have brought the District of Columbia under the jurisdiction of that proposed legislation, insofar as intrastate activities in the District itself are concerned, and also would have provided the means for criminal action against persons who engage in the preparation of fire-bombs or Molotov cocktails or who instruct others in their manufacture or use. However, I was persuaded during the debate on the bill that another amendment, which was adopted, would serve my purpose, and hence I withheld my amendment.
Since that time, however, certain officials in the U.S. Department of Justice have stated that they feel it would be preferable to have a separate law on this subject as a part of the District of Columbia Code, in order to assure adequate legal protection against those who riot or incite others to riot, in the Nation's capital.
In the face of this situation, I strongly support and urge favorable action on H.R. 12328 or H.R. 12605, identical bills incorporating the language recommended by the Department of Justice, which we have before us for consideration today. These bills include three major provisions, as follows:
1. The term “riot" is defined as a public disturbance involving 5 or more persons, which by tumultuous and violent conduct or the threat thereof creates grave danger of damage or injury to property or persons.
2. Punishment by imprisonment for not more than one year or a fine of not more than $1,000, or both, is provided for persons engaging in a riot or inciting other persons to so engage in the District of Columbia.
3. Punishment for persons who willfully incite or urge others to engage in a riot in the District which results in serious bodily harm to any person or in property damage in excess of $5,000, is set at imprisonment for not more than 10 years or fine of not more than $10,000, or both. Mr. Chairman, I wish to propose that a further provision be added to this legislation, making it a crime to manufacture or instruct others
in the manufacture or use of fire-bombs or Molotov cocktails, regardless of whether or not they are ever put to use. At present, there are no provisions in the D.C. Code under which prosecution could be had for such activities. In the instance I mentioned above, in connection with the Anacostia riot in 1966, if some of the incendiary devices had actually been used, a charge of arson might possibly have been brought if private property had been burned as a result. At best, however, this provision in the present law is woefully inadequate, and I strongly urge that this loophole in the District of Columbia code of law be closed forthwith.
I anticipate that anguished voices will be raised in protest against the provisions of this legislation dealing with inciting other persons to engage in rioting, on the grounds that freedom of speech will thereby be violated. Mr. Chairman, freedom of speech is a zealously guarded heritage in this country. But freedom of speech must not be allowed to immunize from punishment a person who incites others to maim or to kill or to riot. Freedom of speech must not be distorted to guarantee to anyone the right to create disorder. Those who incite others to deeds of violence should be punished whether or not their freedom of speech is involved.
Mr. Chairman, I urge favorable action on this measure as a duty to the citizens I have the privilege to represent in the Congress, as well to the millions of Americans who come to this city as to a shrine, with a feeling of reverence and respect for the provisions of our Constitution which were designed by our forefathers to maintain law and order in this great nation.
Mr. McMillan. Thank you, Mr. Broyhill.
STATEMENT OF HON. TOM BEVILL, A REPRESENTATIVE IN
CONGRESS FROM THE STATE OF ALABAMA
Mr. BEVILL. Mr. Chairman, members of the distinguished District of Columbia Committee, I appreciate the opportunity of submitting to you a statement in support of pending legislation to prohibit riots in the District of Columbia.
As a matter of record, I have introduced a bill relating to the prohibition of riots and incitement to riot in the District of Columbia. This bill, H.R. 12557, is now pending before you.
It goes without saying that our Nation's Capital, the District of Columbia, is visited daily not only by people from all over our country, but from all over the world. These people who come to visit the District of Columbia may very well form a lasting opinion from the impressions they receive. Therefore, I believe that every possible step should be taken to make this a "model city."
Never before in the history of the United States have we experienced such outbreaks of rioting and violence, as in this year of 1967. Never before have such violent civil disorders racked our nation, extracting great physical, moral and financial costs from our citizens.
I believe the best way to combat this sort of behavior is to strengthen local law enforcement agencies through the enactment of laws such as those you are now considering.