State Watch

Judge temporarily blocks Florida anti-riot law

A judge temporarily blocked Florida’s anti-riot law in a win for several groups who claimed the law was unconstitutional. 

U.S. District Judge Mark Walker on Thursday ruled the bill violated the First Amendment. 

“Plaintiffs’ and their members’ First Amendment rights are chilled” by parts of the law, according to Walker.

Walker declared the legislation was too broad and made the definition of a “riot” unclear. 

“Is it enough to stand passively near violence? What if you continue protesting when violence erupts? What if that protest merely involves standing with a sign while others fight around you? Does it depend on whether your sign expresses a message that is pro- or anti-law enforcement? What about filming the violence? What if you are in the process of leaving the disturbance and give a rioter a bottle of water to wash tear gas from their eyes?” the judge said in the filing.

Multiple groups including the American Civil Liberties Union sued Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), state Attorney General Ashley Moody (R) and others over the bill earlier this year.

The bill includes not letting those arrested during a riot post bail until their first court hearing and doesn’t allow cities to cut police budgets without state approval. 

DeSantis said the state would be appealing the decision and is confident he will win. 

“That’s a foreordained conclusion from that court,” DeSantis said during a press conference Thursday, The Washington Post reported. “I guarantee you, we’ll win that on appeal.”

Tags Florida Florida anti-riot bill Mark Walker riot Ron DeSantis

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