Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced new legislation Monday that would increase the penalties for anyone involved in a “violent or disorderly assembly.” The bill would also prohibit state funding for any local government that cuts their police budget.
“Recently in our country we have seen attacks on law enforcement, we have seen disorder and tumult in many cities and across the country,” the governor said during a Monday press conference. “And I think that this has been a really really sad chapter in American history.” (RELATED: Governor DeSantis Sending Florida National Guard To Help With D.C. Protests)
“I think we need to do more in terms of having a strong legislative response so that we do not always have to play whack-a-mole any time you have situations like this develop,” DeSantis continued.
Under the new law, called the Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act, anyone involved in an assembly of 7 or more people where property is destroyed or someone is injured would face felony charges. It also makes it a felony to block roadways and destroy public property, including toppling monuments.
Today I announced bold legislation that creates new criminal offenses and increases penalties for those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies. We will always stand with our men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe. pic.twitter.com/ITl5GmmrZJ
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 21, 2020
The bill makes it a misdemeanor to “harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.” If a person is charged with a crime related to rioting they would not get bail until their first appearance in court, and anyone who is convicted of participating in a riot would be ineligible for government benefits or employment by the government.
Hitting a law enforcement officer, including with a projectile, would carry a mandatory minimum of 6 months in jail under the new legislation. Any local government that cuts their police budget would lose any state grants or aid.
The legislation comes in response to over 3 months of nationwide protests and riots that erupted after George Floyd’s death May 25. During the riots, people destroyed property, burned buildings down, and clashed with police.