Democrats are furious over a new bill which aims to protect police officers, citizens, and businesses in Florida from violent rioters.
On Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the bill HB 1 into law.
The State’s Senate approved the bill in a 23-17 vote.
The law will provide stricter penalties for violent acts perpetrated during a riot, including an increased felony charge for assaulting police officers.
Business owners will now be able to sue local governments for property damage during civil unrest.
Harsher charges will also be assessed to protestors who block traffic, or desecrate historical structures.
Democrats claim the bill is an assault on the First Amendment, and that it gives too much power back to police.
Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed into law Florida’s "anti-riot" bill, which increases penalties for crimes committed during riots and is aimed at "combating public disorder."
"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 at a press conference. "There’s just nothing even close."
Florida's Senate passed the bill last week 23-17. It was seen as a response to protests around the country stemming from police brutality against African Americans.
The law, which goes into effect immediately, grants civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road and allows authorities to hold arrested demonstrators from posting bail until after their first court date. The legislation increases the charge for battery on a police officer during a riot and adds language that could force local governments to justify a reduction in law enforcement budgets.
The bill allows people to sue local governments over personal or property damages if they were determined to have interfered with law enforcement response during civil unrest. It also increases penalties for protesters who block roadways or deface public monuments and creates a new crime, "mob intimidation."
Democrats love violent rioting, as it serves to furthers their own political agendas.
For this reason, the dems are furious with DeSantis for signing the bill.
According to democrats, enforcing harsher punishments for rioters who assault police officers and destroy cities is an attack on the First Amendment.
Several Florida democrats are calling the bill unjust and even "racist."
“You have just declared war on the First Amendment in the state of Florida.” Strong words on Monday afternoon from State Sen. Shevrin Jones, D-Miami Gardens, directed at Gov. Ron DeSantis just hours after signing HB 1, the so-called anti-riot bill.
The law, which went into effect immediately, creates a new crime of “mob intimidation,” enhances riot-related penalties and makes it harder for local officials to reduce spending on law enforcement.
The bill was a response to protests around the country because of police violence against African Americans. DeSantis said Florida won’t allow violent protests and predicted people might be upset by the verdict in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.
Senator Jones and other members of the Florida legislature held a news conference expressing outrage over the new law.
“Our response to injustices in this country is protests, but their response is to criminalize it when their recourse for us is to turn to the streets, to make our voices heard in this unjust system. Governor DeSantis’s actions today goes to show that he’s not concerned about the lives of Black and Brown people who so happened to be citizens of this diverse state that many of us call home. He ignored us today, and our cries from the Senate floor and also from the House floor. If he was concerned, he would have addressed the killings of Black men by the hands of police officers. If he was concerned, he would have addressed and acknowledged the gun violence that’s running rampant in communities across this state,” said Sen. Jones.
After the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by supporters of then-President Donald Trump, Republicans pushing the legislation used it as an example to support the effort.
But the Capitol riots were not mentioned as the bill was signed by Gov. DeSantis.
Opponents of the bill say it was a racist reaction to a problem that hasn’t occurred in Florida. They saw it as an attempt to squash the voices of groups like Black Lives Matter.
Governor DeSantis discussed the anti-riot bill Saturday on Sean Hannity's show.
DeSantis's stock has gone way up in recent months.
Could we see DeSantis make some noise in 2024?