NYT host says Florida riot bill lets authorities ‘pick and choose’ on protesting

Jane Coaston, host of The New York Times podcast “The Argument,” said Monday that Florida’s new “anti-riot bill,” which she called “incredibly vague,” allows law enforcement to “pick and choose” who is protesting properly.

“I think that one of the challenges we’re seeing here is that this bill is allowing law enforcement to pick and choose who is protesting in the right way and who is protesting in the wrong way,” Coaston said on Hill.TV’s “Rising.”

“It basically gives law enforcement officials the ability to say, ‘this protest, I don’t like it, so it’s unlawful assembly,’ and that means that everyone who’s arrested from the unlawful assembly that the law enforcement has just decided it was gets arrested and held for an entire evening,” she added.

Coaston also said that the bill, one of several advancing at the state level limiting public protest, gives police officers “really broad discretion” when it comes to making arrests and handing down charges, which she said they perhaps shouldn’t have.

“It grants police officers really broad discretion that perhaps they shouldn’t get to have about who should be arrested and who should be charged with a third degree felony, which would then result in them losing the right to vote and losing a host of other rights, and deciding who doesn’t have to be arrested,” she said.

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