Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has proposed legislation that would bring criminal offenses of up to third-degree felonies and jail time to anyone law enforcement finds participating in disorderly assemblies and partaking in violence.
DeSantis said the proposal, which is called the Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act, would establish criminal penalties for actions such as obstructing traffic, destroying public property, protesting without a permit and harassing a person at a restaurant.
The bill states that any driver who hits a person who is obstructing traffic during an unpermitted protest will not be liable for injury or death “if fleeing from the safety of a mob.”
Mia Chatman, a fourth year pre-physical therapy student at FAMU, had much to say regarding this proposal. “I just don’t understand why drivers who run their cars through [us] protesters are able to get away with it. It’s very ironic that this was included in this bill considering that a driver ran his car through a crowd of peaceful protesters and had not been charged.”
In this bill, DeSantis stated that any local government which “slashes the budget for law enforcement services” will not be allowed any state grants or aid.
He makes it clear that “defunding the police” will not be tolerated.
This proposal would be the strictest reaction in the country to ongoing protests and demonstrates.
Taylor Jackson, a fourth year business administration studentat FAMU, believes that this bill is designed to stop the momentum that the Black Lives Matter movement was gaining. “This bill is trying to silence our movement. We are protesting for the many injustices at the hands of law enforcement for the innocent lives lost. If this governor really cared about stopping violence, why not propose bills against those law enforcement officers, and holding them more accountable for their actions.”
DeSantis said the legislation will allow the state of Florida to use RICO liability against anyone who organizes or funds these kinds of “disorderly assemblies.”
He said at a news conference in Polk County that what was happening in Portland is an example of what not to do, saying that it’s like a “carousel and on and on it goes,” in reference to how the protesters get released with no charges being brought against them, a continuous cycle.
“I think what it’s [the bill] saying is we are not going to let Florida go down the road that some of these other places have gone,” DeSantis said.