Governor Ron DeSantis is signing an “anti-riot” bill into law in response to violence during nationwide protests. On Thursday, Gov. DeSantis’s office said he will approve legislation that will impose harsher criminal penalties on looters and violent rioters. (Yet another reason why so many people are moving to Florida)
Neonnettle In a 23 -17 vote, mostly along party lines, Florida’s Senate approved HB 1, the Orlando Sentinel reported. DeSantis initially unveiled the proposal last September and was a vocal advocate for its passage.
“This 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,” the governor’s office said in a statement.
Further, this legislation ensures that no community in the state engages in defunding of their police,” the statement adds.
“The Governor looks forward to signing HB 1 into law,” his office said.
Aside from the enhanced criminal penalties for acts of violence during a riot, the bill contains a measure requiring state approval for any change to a municipal budget that would reduce funding for police.
The clause was a response to calls to “defund the police” after the death of George Floyd last May.
HB 1 institutes a felony charge for the destruction of a memorial, flag, or other historical structure. It would also hold local governments civilly liable if they interfere with law enforcement efforts to respond to riots.
The bill passed the Senate despite vocal opposition from Democrats, Black Lives Matter, and Antifa groups who argued it was an infringement on the First Amendment.