Panama City, FL –
POLK COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – A controversial Florida bill to crack down on violent protests and “fight public unrest” was enacted on Monday.
Governor Ron DeSantis signed HB 1 during a 10:00 a.m. press conference with Florida lawmakers and law enforcement officials at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Winter Haven. He did not answer questions after the signing.
The law came into effect immediately.
The bill, dubbed the “riot bill,” was first introduced in the Florida House of Representatives in early January and passed in the Senate Thursday night.
The bill includes a number of measures introduced by Governor Ron DeSantis after protests last summer in his Combating Violence, Disturbance and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act.
The 61-page bill makes several changes to Florida criminal and administrative law and:
- Make it harder for cities and counties to cut law enforcement funding, by allowing elected officials to challenge these budget decisions and giving the state the power to approve or change the local budget
- Allow these local governments to be prosecuted if they fail to stop a riot
- Define “riot” as a violent public disturbance involving 3 or more people acting with a common intention resulting in injury to others, property damage or imminent danger of injury or damage
- Strengthen penalties for those who commit crimes during a riot
- Create a new second degree crime called “aggravated riot,” which occurs when a riot has more than 25 participants, causes grievous bodily harm or more than $ 5,000 in property damage, uses or threatens to use a lethal weapon or block roads with force or threat of force
Florida Senator Danny Burgess (R-Zephyrhills), who sponsored the legislation, said he believes this framework is necessary to distinguish between peaceful and violent behavior.
“Not only have we done this to educate the public about what constitutes a riot, but also to make it clear to protesters and law enforcement where this line in the law is drawn,” Burgess said.
But a number of other officials and lawmakers have criticized the bill, saying it violates the rights of the First Amendment protests.
“This bill does not give the police or prosecutors important new tools to deal with the unrest. It tears up a few corners of the Constitution, ”Warren said in March. “It’s misguided. The public needs to understand that it is a waste of precious time and taxpayers’ money to keep pushing this bad bill forward.
“This is no game. This governor and his Republican allies love to talk about the Constitution, while shredding it with extreme legislation like HB 1. Silencing those who seek equality is straight from the playbook. of the Communist regime, ”the Florida agriculture commissioner said in a statement on Monday. “The criminal aspects of this bill are already illegal. HB 1 does not protect anyone, makes anyone safer, and does nothing to improve people’s lives. It is simply to appease the governor’s illusion of widespread anarchy, and it is frightening to imagine the efforts he will make to strip rights and freedoms for political gain.
Others wonder how the law will be applied.
“Who will be the one to say when a riot occurs?” asked Senator de Fla. Shevrin Jones (D-Broward / Miami-Dade). “This question has still not been answered.”
Gov. DeSantis signs controversial ‘anti-riot’ bill into law Source link Gov. DeSantis signs controversial ‘anti-riot’ bill into law