A news briefing held at the Polk County Sherrif’s Office, Governor Ron DeSantis announced a bill that will hold harsher penalties for protesters committing felonies like property damage, causing injury, blocking roadways, destruction and removal of monuments, harassing people in public, and other things. Included is mandatory jail time for violence against a police officer, which is six months.
An included provision would protect drivers from liability “for injury and death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.” The bill will prevent protesters who commit crimes from being able to receive state benefits or work for the state. The bill will be decided in the next legislative session that begins in March 2021.
DeSantis said, “We’re not going to go down the road that other places have gone. If you do it, and you know that a ton of bricks will rain down on you, then I think people will think twice about engaging in this type of conduct.”
The bill also blocks Florida localities from receiving state grants if they defund the police.
The Governor also said, “Our right to peacefully assemble is one of our most cherished as Americans, but throughout the country we’ve seen that right being taken advantage of by professional agitators, bent on sowing disorder and causing mayhem in our cities. I will not allow this kind of violence to occur here in Florida.”
Not everyone is fond of the bill. Stephanie Porta is the executive director of the progressive group Organize Florida. She called the proposal “an election stunt” and said “This is out there to absolutely scare people into not using their constitutional rights for freedom of speech.” She also said that the law is unconstitutional and that they will prevent it from passing.
Sources: Politico, South Florida Sun Sentenial; Photo-Tallahassee Democrat