Florida Governor moves forward with “anti-mob” legislation, lets citizens defend against rioters, looters

Florida Governor moves forward with “anti-mob” legislation,
lets citizens defend against rioters, looters 1

FLORIDA – In September 2020, as we previously reported, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis promised to come down hard on violent protestors with new laws.  By moving forward with his recently-drafted “anti-mob” legislation, he is making good on his word.

According to the Miami Herald, with this new draft bill, DeSantis seeks to expand upon Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law.

A September 2020 version of DeSantis’ proposed legislation can be viewed at this link, provided by the Miami Herald.

The Herald also states it had obtained a copy of the current draft bill, entitled “anti-mob legislation draft,” and reports:

“The proposal would expand the list of ‘forcible felonies’ under Florida’s self-defense law to justify the use of force against people who engage in criminal mischief that results in the ‘interruption or impairment’ of a business, and looting, which the draft defines as a burglary within 500 feet of a ‘violent or disorderly assembly.’”

In addition, according to the Herald, the bill would increase criminal penalties for those involved in violent protests.

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Furthermore, with regards to the blocking of traffic during protests, the bill would make said blocking a third-degree felony, and it would offer immunity to drivers trapped in the mob who accidentally kill or injure protesters.

Also according the bill, the state of Florida promises to withhold funds from municipalities that defund the police.

Per the Herald, the draft bill has not yet been filed in the House and Senate, but it has made its way to the Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and the House Judiciary Committee.

As one might expect, the draft bill has been met with pushback from politicians and attorneys.

Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber, who has been critical of Florida’s Stand Your Ground Law, complained:

“It’s clear that the Trump beauty pageant is still going on with governors and senators, who all want to be the next Trump. And the governor is clearly a very good contestant.”

Gelber added that the bill “sounds like an invitation to incite violence.”

Reid Rubin, retired Miami-Dade homicide prosecutor, explained his objection by saying:

“Any number of things could occur. ‘Interruption or impairment’ to what degree? You could have people who are peacefully assembling who go in and out of a store — and a store owner or even a passerby could get nervous and misinterpret something and think they have the right to use unnecessary physical force — or even deadly force.”

Former Miami-Dade prosecutor Aubrey Webb also implied that citizens were unable to use discretion when he asserted:

“[The bill] dangerously gives armed private citizens power to kill as they subjectively determine what constitutes ‘criminal mischief’ that interferes with a business.”

He continued:

“Someone graffiti-ing ‘Black Lives Matter’ on a wall? Urinating behind a dumpster? Blocking an entrance?”

“The Boston Tea Party members would have been lawfully shot under Florida’s law by the British East India Tea Company.”

Former Miami-Dade prosecutor Denise Georges objected in a similar vein, claiming that the bill “allows for vigilantes to justify their actions.”

She added:

“It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

Miami defense lawyer Phil Reizenstein asserted that there was no need to add legislation in the first place, saying:

“It’s bad policy to enact criminal statutes for transient political issues. Time and money are better spent addressing the underlying causes of the unrest.”

Civil rights attorney Melba Pearson denied the existence of violent protestors in her objection to the draft bill, claiming that the measure would have a “chilling effect on free speech.”

She added:

“These are not mobs running around the street. People are using their First Amendment rights.”

As for law enforcement, Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd would disagree with Pearson’s assessment that all those gathered are simply using those rights.

At a press conference in September regarding the proposed anti-mob legislation, Judd held up photos to assist the press in distinguishing between Florida’s peaceful protests, and violent riots and looting.

He added:

“I truly believe in our God-given right and our constitutional right to speak openly and freely to address our government. That’s important. We listen every day.

“But I’ve also watched across this country when law enforcement officers who put their life on the line were told to stand down, allow them to burn the precinct.”

According to the Herald, Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri, who is the legislative chair of the Florida Sheriffs Association, called the issues raised in the draft bill “important” but declined to comment on it, pending review of its final form.

State Senator Joe Gruters, chairman of the Republican Party of Florida, told the Herald that DeSantis “has the right idea” and that he would “definitely be supporting it however [he] can.”

For his part, DeSantis did not speak to the Herald about the most recent happenings with the bill, but in a discussion with Tucker Carlson shortly after he first announced his legislative plans in September, the Governor emphasized the necessity of cracking down on criminal behavior.

DeSantis said:

“Once someone throws a brick at a police officer during one of these demonstrations, and then they have to go immediately to jail, they’re going to stop.  They’re not going to do it. 

“If they can get away with it, they’re going to continue to do it.”

He added:

“They’re threatening to riot more, you’re seeing more and more of this, well, ok, if this is something that is coming down the pike, we’re going to say, ‘Not in Florida, it’s not.’”

Regarding support, or lack thereof, from legislators this election season, DeSantis concluded:

“We want this done as soon as we can get it done….

“They’ve got to take a position on this now.

“Are you for law enforcement, rule of law, or are you going to stand with the mob?

“I know where I stand.”

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Here is our report on DeSantis’ legislation when he first presented it in September:

FLORIDA- Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced new legislation that would create stricter laws against protesting and harsher penalties for protestors.

The legislation, called “The Combating Violence, Disorder, and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act,” was unveiled Monday.

During a news briefing at the Polk County Sheriff’s office DeSantis claimed that the legislation will “probably be the boldest and most comprehensive piece of legislation to address these issues anywhere in the country.”

DeSantis later explained the effect that the bill would have on protests in the state of Florida. This legislation would enable felony charges to be placed on protestors who stop traffic without authorization, anyone participating in a protest that leads to property damage or injury, and anyone who destroys public property during a protest.

DeSantis also said the legislation makes harassing people in public spaces like restaurants during protests a misdemeanor.

“You see these videos of these innocent people eating dinner and you have these crazed lunatics just screaming at them and intimidating them, you’re not going to do that in the state of Florida.”

In addition to the new charges that can be levied against disorderly protestors, DeSantis is also setting a mandatory minimum for assaulting an officer during protests. The bill outlines that “striking” an officer will equate to a minimum of six months in jail.

The act also provides multiple safe guards for citizens and law enforcement agencies in the state of Florida. The third section of the legislation titled “Citizen Taxpayer Protection Measures” outlines protection for victims of riots and law enforcement budgets saying:

“A. No “Defund the Police” Permitted: Prohibits state grants or aid to any local government that slashes the budget for law enforcement services. 

B. Victim Compensation: Waives sovereign immunity to allow a victim of a crime related to a violent or disorderly assembly to sue local government for damages where the local government is grossly negligent in protecting persons and property.

C. Government Employment/Benefits: Terminates state benefits and makes anyone ineligible for employment by state/local government if convicted of participating in a violent or disorderly assembly.

D. Bail: No bond or bail until first appearance in court if charged with a crime related to participating in a violent or disorderly assembly; rebuttable presumption against bond or bail after first appearance.”

The passing of this legislation would set an historic precedent for the consequences of violent protesting. It will also help to mitigate disorderly protests in Florida going forward.

Though the legislation has not been passed yet it has already garnered intense backlash. A Miami news station highlighted the response by Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson when she said:

“The governor is attaching himself to Donald Trump’s propaganda and manufacturing a non-existent law and order crisis in Florida, it’s political fearmongering to bolster a president’s re-election bid.”

The bill has also received criticism from Florida’s division of the ACLU with the executive director, Micah Kubic, claiming:

Gov. DeSantis’ proposal is undemocratic and hostile to Americans’ shared values. This effort has one goal: silence, criminalize, and penalize Floridians who want to see justice for Black lives lost to racialized violence and brutality at the hands of law enforcement.”

The push back that the bill is receiving doesn’t seem to be slowing the efforts of DeSantis who took to Twitter to double down on the legislation.

During his news briefing on Monday DeSantis made it clear that he will to stand for violent protests.“We’re not going to go down the road that other places have gone,” DeSantis said. “If you do it, and you know that a ton of bricks will rain down on you, then I think people will think twice about engaging in this type of conduct.”

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