New York county passes measure to make police a 'protected class' that can sue protesters
A protester flees as police officers try to disperse a crowd comprised largely of student demonstrators during a protest against police violence in the U.S., in Berkeley, California early December 7, 2014. REUTERS/Noah Berger

The Nassau County Legislature in New York this week passed a measure that would allow police officers to sue protesters for harassment.

The bill would amend the county's Human Rights Law to make police a "protected class," which is currently limited to race, gender, religion, and sexual orientation. Police would be the only profession protected by the Human Rights Law.

"It shall be an unlawful discriminatory practice for any person to harass, menace, assault or injure" an officer, the legislation states.

The measure was passed largely along party lines.

If the bill is signed into law by County Executive Laura Curran (D), a lawyer for the county could sue protesters on behalf of officers. Protesters could be fined $25,000. The fine could increase to $50,000 if the incident occurs during a riot.

According to NBC New York, "civil rights activists say [the measure] is payback for demonstrations after the police killing of George Floyd last year in Minneapolis."

"This is an enormous grant of power to police who don't need to have this power and also don't need to try to utilize a lawsuit that will basically silence individuals by threatening them that they could lose their livelihood, lose their property, and their bank accounts," civil rights attorney Fred Brewington said.

Curran has not said whether she will veto the bill.