Governor Ron DeSantis is pushing to crack down on citizens’ right to protest by seeking harsher punishments as well as protections to those who run over protesters who are in the street.
“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,” DeSantis wrote, announcing the new Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting, and Law Enforcement Protection Act.
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. pic.twitter.com/ITl5GmmrZJ
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 21, 2020
The Florida Governor is following the lead of several other Republican leaders who are pushing to pass bills that protect drivers if they injure protesters blocking roads, which is a measure that continues to draw criticism after the fatal 2017 vehicle-ramming attack in Charlottesville, Virginia, that injured 28 and killed 1.
“Under the ‘new criminal offenses’ section established by the would-be Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act, DeSantis declared it a third-degree felony to obstruct traffic during an ‘unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly,'” reported Law & Crime. “Notably, the next clause purports to remove liability for injury or death a driver causes if that driver is ‘fleeing for safety from a mob.'”
In his effort to further deter protesters, DeSantis is also seeking to make it a second-degree felony to knock over monuments during a “violent or disorderly assembly,” even if they promote racism or have a racist past attached to them. He is also pursuing racketeering charges against those who organize protests and is looking to instate new mandatory minimums for protesters who assault police officers as well as making it illegal for local governments to reduce funding for law enforcement.
“If 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,” DeSantis said during a recent press conference in Tampa Bay.
“You have an obligation to tell others where you stand on this bill/ Are you going to stand with victims, are you going to stand with law enforcement, are you going to stand with law and order in these communities, or are you going to stand with the mob?” DeSantis said during his announcement of the new measures.