Florida Governor Ron DeSantis just announced a proposal that has gained the attention, and criticism, of many. The announcement was a result of the recent police protests in Florida. There were over 100 large gathering, to which DeSantis activated over 700 Florida National Guard Soldiers. He also mobilized over 1300 state troopers. Many of these demonstrations were peaceful, but some were extremely destructive. The governor revealed his plan for action by tweeting:
Today I announced bold legislation that creates new criminal offenses and increases penalties for those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies. We will always stand with our men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe.
Additionally, he posted the following picture:
Among other many issues, the document specifically addresses protests on busy roads. In particular, it would clear a driver of any injury liability, if they are “fleeing for safety from a mob.”
The Governor’s website states:
The proposed legislation, the “Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act,” creates new criminal offenses and increases penalties for those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies.
The statement continues by saying the right to protest has been threatened by “professional agitators.”
Florida State Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson weighed in on the matter. Simpson said, “Peaceful protesting is a constitutional right, but looting and disorderly rioting are not.”
Furthermore, Florida House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowl also spoke in favor of the proposal. “We live in a country founded on the power of words, and no group of self-appointed activists and anarchists can be allowed to deprive others of their life, liberty or property,” says Sprowl.
Although, some activist have criticized the law for being vague. They point to the ambiguous wording in its definition of a mob. Organizers also fear this may allow for targeted violence against peaceful assemblies. However, DeSantis counters by saying, that gathering on highways are extremely hazardous for both the protestors, and any motorist involved.
The proposed law has many other components. Here they are as taken directly from the Florida’s government website:
New Criminal Offenses to Combat Rioting, Looting and Violence
- Prohibition on Violent or Disorderly Assemblies: 3rd degree felony when 7 or more persons are involved in an assembly and cause damage to property or injury to other persons.
- Prohibition on Obstructing Roadways: 3rd degree felony to obstruct traffic during an unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly; driver is NOT liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.
- Prohibition on Destroying or Toppling Monuments: 2nd degree felony to destroy public property during a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Prohibition on Harassment in Public Accommodations: 1st degree misdemeanor for a participant in a violent or disorderly assembly to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.
- RICO Liability: RICO liability attaches to anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentence: Striking a law enforcement officer (including with a projectile) during a violent or disorderly assembly = 6 months mandatory minimum jail sentence.
- Offense Enhancements: Offense and/or sentence enhancements for: (1) throwing an object during a violent or disorderly assembly that strikes a civilian or law enforcement officer; (2) assault/battery of a law enforcement officer during a violent or disorderly assembly; and (3) participation in a violent or disorderly assembly by an individual from another state.
Citizen and Taxpayer Protection Measures
- No “Defund the Police” Permitted: Prohibits state grants or aid to any local government that slashes the budget for law enforcement services.
- Victim Compensation: Waives sovereign immunity to allow a victim of a crime related to a violent or disorderly assembly to sue local government for damages where the local government is grossly negligent in protecting persons and property.
- Government Employment/Benefits: Terminates state benefits and makes anyone ineligible for employment by state/local government if convicted of participating in a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Bail: No bond or bail until first appearance in court if charged with a crime related to participating in a violent or disorderly assembly; rebuttable presumption against bond or bail after first appearance.
The draft has not gone into law yet. Although, many believe it is just a matter of time. It still has to clear several channels before the governor would be able to sign it. However, the fact it is being discussed at such a high level, has worried many activist groups.
What do you think of this proposed new law? Do you want something similar in your state? Do you oppose the actions of the Florida Governor? Sound off in the comments below! Stay tuned to American Grit for more news and developments.