Ron DeSantis Signs Anti-Riot Bill Into Law: “It is the strongest anti-rioting legislation in the country, there’s just nothing even close”

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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis just signed what he is calling the country’s “strongest anti-rioting” bill into law today. “If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country,” DeSantis said.“There’s just nothing even close.”

“We saw last summer some of the local governments were actually telling, not necessarily in Florida but throughout the country, basically telling these folks to stand, telling police to stand down while cities burned, while businesses were burned, while people were being harmed,” DeSantis said. 

Ron continued: “That’s a dereliction of duty. These areas that defunded part of law enforcement or just turned their backs on law enforcement — they are paying the bill,” he said taking a swipe at some Dem politicians.

“This law protects Floridians from having that happen.

“We also saw around the country people toppling monuments of people like George Washington.

“This bill protects all monuments in Florida. You have no right to go in and take down monuments, we’re not going to let the mob win the day with that.”

“Just think about it, you’re driving home from work, and all of a sudden, you have people out there shutting down a highway, and we worked hard to make sure that didn’t happen in Florida.

“They start to do that, then there needs to be swift penalties.”

Democratic state Sen. Jason Pizzo criticized the bill saying the law’s definitions are too broad which could lead to confusion over how to charge people.

From The Tampa Bay Times:

The bill, among other things, would enhance penalties for burglaries and grand theft when the crimes are committed during a riot, which the bill defines as a “violent disturbance involving an assembly of three or more persons acting with a common intent.”

Pizzo, a former prosecutor, raised questions about the broad definition and who would determine what is a riot. Burgess said it would be up to law enforcement officers on the scene to determine whether crimes should be enhanced as a result of being facilitated by a riot.

“It is a fact-specific circumstance on the scene,” he said.

But Pizzo said it is “very, very possible and perhaps likely” that people who commit the same crime during a so-called riot would face different charges simply for being in separate places and having a different officer respond to the scene.

Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-West Park, said local municipalities have been concerned about a provision in the bill that takes aim at their police budget decisions. The bill says that state attorneys in each judicial circuit would have the authority to appeal any budget reduction.

From The Orlando Sentinel:

The law also creates a broad category for misdemeanor arrest during protests, and anyone charged under that provision will be denied bail until their first court appearance. DeSantis said he wanted that to prevent people from rejoining ongoing protests.

But opponents say the law would make it easier for law enforcement to charge organizers and anyone involved in a protest, even if they had not engaged in any violent activity.

The new law also protects Confederate monuments along with other memorials, statues and historic property.