Florida’s MAGA Governor Ron DeSantis signed the legislature’s “anti-riot” bill into law on Monday, a measure that vastly increases law enforcement’s powers to crack down on civil
It’s worth watching the news conference through this link.
“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 in Winter Haven surrounded by Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd, uniformed deputies and other law enforcement and reported by the Orlando Sentinel. “There’s just nothing even close.”
See some of Sheriff Grady Judd’s comments through this link.
The 61-page bill makes several significant changes to Florida criminal and administrative law reported NBC News Channel 8:
Makes it more difficult for cities and counties to reduce funding for law enforcement, allowing local elected officials to challenge those budget decisions, and giving the state power to approve or amend the local budget.
Allows those local governments to be sued if they fail to stop a riot.
Define “riot” as a violent public disturbance involving 3 or more people acting with common intent resulting in injury to others, damage to property, or the imminent danger of injury or damage.
Enhance penalties for people who commit crimes during a riot.
Create a new second-degree felony called an “aggravated riot,” which occurs when the riot has more than 25 participants, causes great bodily harm or more than $5,000 in property damage, uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon, or blocks roadways by force or threat of force.
Florida Sen. Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), who sponsored the legislation, said he felt this framework was needed to draw a distinction between peaceful and violent behavior.
“Not only did we do that to put the public on notice as to what constitutes a riot, but also to make it clear to both protester and law enforcement where that line in the law is drawn,” said Burgess.
Among other provisions, the law, which goes into effect immediately, prohibits local officials from giving police “stand down” orders and puts the burden of civil liability on local officials who fail to act to quell civil unrest. The law penalizes local governments that interfere with law enforcement attempting to contain riots and would provide a citizen’s appeal process when cities and counties attempt to reduce police budgets.
During the signing ceremony DeSantis called efforts to defund police "an insane theory." "It's not going to be allowed to ever carry the day in the state of Florida," the governor said.
The law also grants civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road. “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,” DeSantis said. “They start to do that, [then] there needs to be swift penalties.”
The law also creates a broad category for misdemeanor arrests 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. And it establishes new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration.
The Orlando Sentinel's Steven Lemongello and Gray Rohrer also reported the law creates a new felony crime of “aggravated rioting” that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a new crime of “mob intimidation.”
The measure also protects monuments along with other memorials, statues and historic property. It is now a second-degree felony to destroy or demolish a memorial, plaque, flag, painting, structure or other object that commemorates historical people or events. That would be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
“We also saw around the country people toppling monuments of people like George Washington,” DeSantis said. “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.”
Echoing DeSantis, Republican state House Speaker Chris Sprowls and Attorney General Ashley Moody rightly criticized Democrat-run states and cities for their handling of last summer’s riots.
In an interesting side comment Sheriff Judd implored those moving to Florida in the wake of Democrat-run state lockdowns and riots, “don’t register to vote and vote the stupid way they did up north and get what they got.”
The governor said the law would protect law enforcement and private property against rioters, and we believe such protection is not only warranted but desperately needed in the wake of the ongoing riots in Democrat-run states and cities where officials have abdicated their obligation to maintain law and order. The new Florida anti-rioting law should be a model for other conservative jurisdictions that want to make it clear to both protesters and law enforcement where the line is between constitutionally protected speech and criminal behavior.
Gov. Ron DeSantis
George Floyd trial
Law enforcement powers
Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd
Florida Sen. Danny Burgess
Stand down orders
Attorney General Ashley Moody