Last week, Florida governors signed a controversial bill that will prevent people who run down protesters from being held accountable for their actions.
Of course, since the news broke, people have been reacting with horror…
With many voicing their concerns over their freedom to protest and social injustice.
Signed by Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, the new “anti-riot” bill has a primary aim of cracking down on “violent protests across the State.”
“I think it’s really remarkable if you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation,” DeSantis said during a press conference yesterday. “It is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.”
In a statement to NBC News last week, DeSantis added that the legislation “strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble…”
“While ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished.”
DeSantis began campaigning for the bill last year…
When the country saw a spike in violent protests following the death of George Floyd and the growth of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The bill was barely passed in the Florida Senate last week, with a 23-17 split in favor of it.
One Republican opposed, along with the Democrat contingent.
Under the new law, penalties will be enhanced for crimes committed during a riot or violent protest.
It will also allow authorities to hold arrested protesters until a first court appearance, and will eventually establish new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration.
The law will also make it a second-degree felony to destroy or demolish a memorial, plaque, flag, painting, structure, or any other object that commemorates historical people or events.
Any of the above actions would be punishable by up to ten years in prison.
Local governments will also be held accountable and punished if they’re seen to be preventing the termination of a “riot,” which is defined as “3 people or more acting with the common intent to assist each other in violent and disorderly conduct…”
As well an ability to file objections to funding cuts, which feeds into DeSantis’ “anti-defund the police” stance.
But perhaps the most controversial inclusion of all?
The law will provide civil immunity given to anyone who runs over a protester if they are in or blocking the road.
To put it simply, any driver who runs down protestors will not face criminal charges for their actions.
Last year, there were at least 104 incidents of people driving vehicles into protestors from May 27th through to September 5th, ninety-six by civilians and 8 by police, according to a terrorism researcher at the University of Chicago’s Project on Security and Threats.
In that time period, there were at least 2 fatalities from the hit-and-runs, in Seattle and in Bakersfield, California.
Though today, that number is expected to be much higher.
Make sure to stay posted for further updates.