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Rutherford Institute Looks to Change Bill Labeling Domestic Terrorist Organizations

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Virginia General Assembly Virginia General Assembly
ALBEMARLE COUNTY, Va. (WVIR) -

A civil rights group in Albemarle County is weighing in on a new bill on the House floor that's looking at labeling groups.

Under House Bill 1601, a group can get labeled as a domestic terrorist organization if one person in the group has a misdemeanor charge from something like trespassing or assault - even if you don't know about it.

Once a group is blacklisted, it cannot receive any material support from the government or police.

The Rutherford Institute is calling on the Virginia General Assembly to denounce the bill because it warns it could undermine the First Amendment by violating the freedom of association.

“So that one act could get an African-American activist organization labeled terrorist groups,” says John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute. “And it’s the fact that just one individual who’s involved in the act can actually create a mess for these organizations, and get them blacklisted.”

Whitehead adds that only the state police superintendent gets the ultimate say if a group is considered a domestic terrorist organization, and he suggests these cases need to be public and decided by a panel instead.

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