Ron DeSantis Defends Bill That Grants Immunity to Civilian Drivers Who Run Over Protesters

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Gov. Ron DeSantis has defended the controversial anti-riot bill that will grant immunity to civilian drivers who run over protestors…

And he’s insisted that the bill is “necessary” after the wake of violent protests last year.

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Here’s the full story…

Now, since the news of the bill broke last week, people have been reacting with horror…

With many voicing their concerns over their freedom to protest and social injustice.

Signed by Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, the new “anti-riot” bill has a primary aim of cracking down on “violent protests across the State.”

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“I think it’s really remarkable if you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation,” DeSantis said during a press conference on April 19th.
“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…”

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“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…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…”

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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.

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Though today, that number is expected to be much higher.

So, as you can see, people being outraged over the bill and DeSantis’ support for it is understandable…

And now, the Republican Governor has stepped in yet again to defend the bill following the anger.

In an interview with Fox News on Tuesday night, DeSantis said it was “not at all” the case that the state legislation impeded people’s right to assembly under the Constitution.

The Republican also said the bill was “really necessary” in the wake of violent protests last year.

Asked if the legislation infringed First Amendment rights to peacefully protest, DeSantis replied:

“Not at all. If you’re throwing a brick at a law enforcement officer’s head, which many people were doing throughout the summer, that is nothing to do with the First Amendment. If you break into a store and damage people’s property, or steal people’s property, doesn’t have anything to do with the First Amendment.”

He went on:

“If you have a mob of people descend on an innocent civilian, and intimidate and harass them, doesn’t have anything to do with the First Amendment. And so I think this was a really necessary piece of legislation.”

You can listen to DeSantis’ full interview here:

What do you think about the anti-riot bill? Do you agree with it or do you think it’s utterly barbaric?