Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is proposing legislation to deter violent rioting and looting in the state.
The Combating Violence, Disorder, and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act would create stiffer penalties for violators and includes provisions to protect law enforcement and citizens for acts of self-defense, reports The Blaze.
Targets of the legislation include violent demonstrations, destruction of statues and monuments, blocking public roads, and harassing citizens, “all rampant behavior of Antifa and BLM mobs that have gone undeterred and unpunished until now,” The Blaze reports.
The new law would increase penalties for striking a law enforcement officer during violent acts of civil unrest and violence, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
“I think what it’s saying is, we’re not going to let Florida go down the road that some of these other places have gone,” DeSantis said. “If you can do this and get away with it, then you’re going to have more people do it. If you do it and you know that there’s going to be a ton of bricks rain down on you, then I think that people will think twice about engaging in this type of conduct.”
DeSantis’s proposal is supported by incoming Florida Senate President Wilton Simpson (R-Trilby) and incoming House Speaker Chris Sprowls (R-Palm Harbor ). That could set up an argument between Democrats concerned this legislation will restrict the right to protest and Republicans who want to prevent the violence and lawlessness seen in cities such as Chicago, Portland, and Seattle, the Tallahassee Democrat reports.
American Civil Liberties Union of Florida Executive Director Micah Kubic said in a prepared statement the DeSantis proposal is designed to “silence, criminalize, and penalize Floridians who want to see justice for Black lives lost to racialized violence and brutality at the hands of law enforcement.”
Polk County, Florida Sherriff Grady Judd provided the press on Monday with a visual depiction of peaceful protests, which are acceptable, and violence, which is not. Judd said the law would not be used to restrict protest but would aggressively punish lawlessness, the Daily Caller reports.
There should be no confusion in the media or among the public about the differences between peaceful protests and looting and violence, Judd told the press.
“We can tell the difference,” Judd said, showing contrasting photos. “The governor can tell the difference. Our law enforcement officers can tell the difference.”
“If you loot, the next thing you can try to steal is something off of your food tray at the county jail, ’cause you’re going to jail; that’s a guarantee,” Judd said.
The support from Simpson and Sprowls suggests DeSantis’s proposal is likely to become Florida law. All three elected officials stood with law enforcement in announcing the legislation.
“Officials in communities where protests have erupted into violence have abdicated their No. 1 responsibility,” said Sprowls, a former prosecutor. “We will not be culpable of the same kind of negligence in our state.”
Some other states’ governors have taken a similar stand against the violence that has flared up in recent months.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbot is proposing legislation to increase penalties for those engaging in public violence and rioting.
“Today, we are announcing more legislative proposals to do even more to protect our law enforcement officers as well as do more to keep our community safe,” the Texas Tribune reports.
Abbot’s proposal would make property destruction or personal injury of another person during a riot a felony. Shining lasers or blocking an entrance to a hospital, as was done in Los Angeles after the attempted murder of two police officers, would also be classed as felonies. Currently, these acts are misdemeanors in Texas.
“We’re tired of seeing all these rioters do their rioting, they get arrested, they go in, and 30 minutes later, they’re back on the street,” Abbott said.
Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb addressed the state’s residents at the outset of the demonstrations. Expressing support for First Amendment protection of peaceful assembly while clearly drawing the line against violence and vandalism, Holcomb told the public, “Injuring the innocent in response to an injustice is counterproductive,” reports FOX 19.
“There are folks who are militant about creating chaos, about using George Floyd’s memory and legacy for their own motivation,” Holcomb said.
Holcomb told FOX 59 President Donald Trump suggested to governors that they prepare and not be caught off guard when protests began. Holcomb, a Republican, took that advice and was proactive, calling in the National Guard and making troops available to assist communities that might experience violence.
Of the nation’s 20 most violent cities, 17 are run by Democrats, Breitbart reports. The ten most violent cities, as documented by FBI statistics, are all run by Democrats. These are the same cities that have experienced some of the most violent rioting, looting, and vandalism since the unrest began this year, including Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, and New York City.
“Democratic governors and mayors did little if anything to stop the violence, which only encouraged the criminals,” writes John Kass at Real Clear Politics. “In Illinois and elsewhere, the mayors and governors backed off and watched as businesses were destroyed.”
“Now these mayors and governors cringe and make mewing sounds of appeasement, caught as they are between their hard-left political base and the growing disillusionment of voters,” writes Kass.
U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr is implementing tougher sanctions against violence by applying a 1968 federal law against crossing state lines to incite or engage in rioting, in an effort to restore law and order to the streets and communities of the nation, the New York Post reports.
“It is time to stop watching the violence and to confront and stop it,” Barr said in a statement. “The continued violence and destruction of property endangers the lives and livelihoods of others, and interferes with the rights of peaceful protestors, as well as all other citizens.”