Springfield….State Representative Terri Bryant (R-Murphysboro) is sponsoring a bill to help address a problem she finds disturbing, a trend that has adults and teenagers videotaping staged assaults, gang-style beatings, and one-on-one battles between consenting and non-consenting participants, and then uploading them to social media accounts and street fighting websites. The bill would add the misdemeanor charge of disorderly conduct if the intent of the filming is to promote or condone the illegal violence.
“The bill is designed to discourage people from uploading video to YouTube or other social networking websites with the intent to promote or condone the crimes being committed. We’re addressing organized gang-related fights, staged one-on-one fights, and the ‘knockout game’,” Bryant said. “If someone has evidence of these crimes on video, and fail to provide a law enforcement agency with that video upon request, under this bill they could possibly face a disorderly conduct charge.”
Bryant says she has been aware of the problem with both adults and youths staging fights and filming planned assaults on unassuming victims for a while now. However, the issue hit home recently when cell phone video of a fight between Murphysboro middle schoolers was uploaded to social media.
“You see these stories in national newspapers, on TV and online, and you think that those problems don’t happen in your community,” Bryant said. “We saw in my own hometown of Murphysboro several students standing around laughing and filming some pretty violent behavior in an after school fight. It was obvious the assault was planned and it was obvious that those filming it were planning to do so. Instead of going to get help, instead of giving the video to the police as evidence of a crime, the bystanders uploaded the videos to their social media accounts.”
Bryant says she the main point of HB 4419 is to address the rapid multiplication of this type of violence and to dissuade minors from repeating the mistakes that they see adults make. Bryant says protecting victims’ rights in situations like these is equally as important.
“If we can show adults that this type of behavior is unacceptable, it is my hope that kids will learn from that,” Bryant said. “Also, when someone does not consent to a fight, when someone is knocked out from behind as part of some sick game, they are a victim of a very violent crime. Sometimes they have to relive the trauma because the videos play on social media, and YouTube. We need to think of the victims of these brutal assaults and send a message to our young people that when adults do this, it is wrong. When kids do it, it is wrong too.”