Monday, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed Florida’s “anti-riot” bill into law, sparking fury among Democrats who believe the action infringes on the rights of peaceful protest.
“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. “There’s just nothing even close.”
Kara Gross, the legislative director at ACLU Florida said “the problem with this bill is that the language is so overbroad and vague … that it captures anybody who is peacefully protesting at a protest that turns violent through no fault of their own. Those individuals who do not engage in any violent conduct under this bill can be arrested and charged with a third-degree felony and face up to five years in prison and loss of voting rights. The whole point of this is to instill fear in Floridians.”
The law offers legal immunity to those who drive through protesters blocking the road, a measure cheered by most Republicans but criticized by Democrats.
“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 while explaining the bill. “They start to do that, [then] there needs to be swift penalties.”