Governor Ron DeSantis has drafted “anti-mob” legislation to expand Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law. Critics claim this legislation will allow and empower armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business.
According to The Miami Herald, lawyers say it’s just one of the many troubling aspects of the draft bill being pushed by the Republican governor in response to police-brutality protests that erupted across the country this summer.
“It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions,” said Denise Georges, a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor who had handled Stand Your Ground cases. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”
The drafted legislation follows through on DeSantis’ pledge in September to crack down on “violent and disorderly assemblies” after he pointed to “reports of unrest” in other parts of the country that followed the national outrage of the death of George Floyd.
This proposal would expand the list of “forcible felonies” under Florida’s self-defense law to justify the use of force against people who engage in any criminal mischief that results in the “interruption or impairment” of a business, and looting, which the draft defines as burglary within 500 feet of a “violent or disorderly assembly.”
DeSantis is also proposing to enhance criminal penalties for people involved in “violent or disorderly assemblies” and make it a third-degree felony to block traffic during a protest. The proposal will offer immunity to drivers who claim to have “unintentionally” killed or injured protesters who block traffic and withhold state funds from local governments that cut law enforcement budgets.