Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis will follow through on a promise and will approve an “anti-riot” bill to impose harsher criminal penalties on violent protesters.
“This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished,” the governor’s office said in a statement. “Further, this legislation ensures that no community in the state engages in defunding of their police.”
“The Governor looks forward to signing HB 1 into law,” his office added.
Sen. Gary Farmer, D-Fort Lauderdale said: “We know the governor wants this piece of legislation. We don’t have to do everything the governor wants.”
The bill passed the House 76-39 with Republicans in favor and Democrats opposed on March 26. It will become effective immediately when DeSantis signs it, which he said Thursday he would do.
DeSantis began to push for an anti-riot bill in September, in response to the protests against police bias and brutality that took place throughout the country last summer, some of which turned violent, with rioting and looting. The protests were sparked by the killing of George Floyd, a Black man, by Minneapolis police.
One of the officers charged in the killing, Derek Chauvin, shown in a video kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly 9 minutes, is currently on trial. Chauvin has a second home in Windermere.
During a conference call with reporters, Black Voters Matter co-founder and executive director Cliff Albright said the legislation is a backlash against the passion expressed by young people in the aftermath of Floyd’s death.
“And in response to that, for the state to say, we’re going to criminalize your activity. We’re going to criminalize your passion. We’re going to criminalize your protest. That’s not what democracy looks like,” Albright said.
Much of the bill addresses the reaction of protesters and rioters in the wake of the Floyd killing.
The “defund the police” slogan of some protesters led to a provision of the bill requiring municipal budget plans that would cut police budgets to be approved by the state.
Florida Senate passes “anti-riot” bill:— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) April 15, 2021
-grants civil legal immunity to ppl who drive through protesters in the road
-ppl arrested during protests cant bail out until 1st court appearance
-6month mandatory sentence for battery on a cop during protesthttps://t.co/Eax0LTvDiH
Without any evidence, MSNBC’s Joy Reid and Glenn Kirschner insinuate that Ron DeSantis will be implicated in the sex trafficking ring with Congressman Matt Gaetz and Joel Greenberg involving drugs and hookers.— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) April 15, 2021
Kirschner: “[T]hings are creeping closer and closer to him. ” pic.twitter.com/kmJbrkhPeS