DeSantis signs ‘anti-riot bill’ cracking down on ‘public disorder’
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) on Monday signed a controversial measure, known as the “anti-riot bill,” into law, which is aimed at “combating public disorder.”
The bill, which goes into effect immediately, requires that cities receive approval from the state before cutting their police budgets, and it raises the charge for protesters who destroy historical structures, including flags and memorials, to a felony.
Additionally, the bill grants civil legal immunity to individuals who drive through roads that protesters block off, makes blocking a highway a felony offense, and it prohibits protesters who are arrested during a riot from posting bail until after their first court date.
The legislation also increased the charge for battery on a police officer during a riot, upping the consequence to a minimum of six months in jail.
The Florida state Senate approved the legislation mostly along party lines in a 23-17 vote on Thursday. The bill cleared the state House in a 76-39 vote in March.
“If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country,” DeSantis said at a press conference on Monday. “There’s just nothing even close.”
The Orlando Sentinel and WFLA previously reported on the bill signing.
Last week, the Texas Senate passed a bill that would require cuts to police budgets to be approved by the community through a vote.
The legislation comes as the country prepares for a potential surge in protests following the verdict in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is accused of murdering George Floyd after video footage captured him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
The prosecution and defense presented closing arguments on Monday.
DeSantis mentioned the trial at the press conference on Monday, criticizing Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison for his handling of the case.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” DeSantis said. “But I can tell you that case was bungled by the attorney general there in Minnesota. They didn’t handle it properly. And so there may be people disappointed.”
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