GOP Rep Proposes Stripping Unemployment Benefits from 'Jobless Rioters,' Forcing Restitution Payments to Police

Indiana Republican Congressman Jim Banks proposed a bill which would block "jobless rioters" from receiving federal unemployment benefits and force those convicted of a crime at protests to pay restitution to arresting police officers.

Representative Banks introduced the "Support Peaceful Protest Act" legislation Friday which seeks to hold individuals financially liable for the cost of the police effort which led to their arrest. Citing "antifa thugs" which turned Milwaukee, Portland and Seattle into "warzones," Banks says the bill would help curb violence and looting at nationwide protests over police brutality and racial injustice. Additionally, any person convicted of a federal offense at a demonstration would be ineligible to receive any pandemic unemployment compensation.

Banks on Monday demanded the FBI investigate "antifa" as a "domestic terrorist organization" responsible for violent protest acts across the country. But federal arrest records do not indicate any cohesive group tied together among those apprehended for violent acts at protests.

"Antifa thugs are descending on suffering communities, disrupting peaceful protests and leaving violence, looting and vandalism in their wake. They turned Milwaukee, Seattle and Portland into warzones, and now they're moving the chaos to Kenosha, Wisconsin," reads the proposed legislation text.

"Who knows which community is next? Due to enhanced federal benefits, taxpayers are giving wages to jobless rioters that are destroying our communities. We need to cut them off from their funding and make them feel the full financial consequences of their actions," wrote Banks.

Arkansas GOP Senator Tom Cotton introduced companion legislation in the senate which also seeks to "block unemployment funds for rioters." Banks thanked Cotton for helping his congressional effort to "#DefundTheMob."

"Currently, thugs and insurrectionists savaging communities around the country are eligible for unemployment benefits, paid for by the very taxpayers whose property they've destroyed. The federal government should not be subsidizing looting and arson. Our bill will not only halt unemployment benefits for rioters but also fine them to help cover additional policing cost," said Cotton.

Congressman Banks' office told Newsweek Tuesday that convicted protesters would specifically be "cut off from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)" - the extra $600 in weekly jobless benefits created under the CARES Act. However, such enhanced federal pandemic funding has been discontinued since expiring on July 31.

In contrast to the remarks made by both Cotton and Banks, federal arrest records and intelligence reports concluded in June that "no single group with a clear organizational structure or leader" has been tied to arrests made in Minneapolis, Portland and elsewhere. Officials at the Center on Extremism at the Anti-Defamation League told The Washington Post, "It's a challenge" to identify antifa provocateurs after arrest records in the wake of George Floyd protests showed it was local residents - and not organized antifa efforts - which composed the overwhelming majority of protest apprehensions.

But several local officials and police including Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser have stated "outside agitators" such as antifa members are directly responsible for violent acts against officers and looting.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly blasted nationwide racial protests as dominated by "rioters, looters and anarchists," as he said during May 30 remarks at a SpaceX launch.

Banks retweeted a remark from radio host Tony Katz Tuesday which touted the congressman's legislation "that would have rioters who are found guilty to pay for the cost of law enforcement to deal with them."

Newsweek also reached out to Michael Leffler of the Marion County Prosecutor's Office Tuesday afternoon for additional remarks but did not receive a reply before publication.

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Indiana GOP Rep. Jim Banks' bill would block "jobless rioters" from receiving federal unemployment benefits and force those convicted to pay restitution to arresting police officers. KEITH GRINER / Contributor/Getty Images