Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced on Monday a bill to crack down on “violent and disorganized protests“, which also provides for the withdrawal of public funds from local governments that “de-finance” the police.
— Tom Fitton (@TomFitton) September 22, 2020
During a press conference in Winter Haven, a city in Polk County, Central, DeSantis introduced the legislative draft called “Fighting Violence, Disorder, Looting and Law Enforcement Protection,” which is proposed to be the “main focus” of the next session in the state Parliament.
“Violent and disorderly protests”
New measures include blocking a street or road during a protest into a felony, third degree.
In addition, he indicated, there will be sanctions for those who damage public real estate. Similarly, persons convicted of participating in violent acts will lose their right to economic unemployment benefit.
“If you throw a brick and hit a police officer, you’re going to jail”
The governor warned.
DeSantis said the bill also provides no bail until the first court appearance of those who beat a policeman.
“Let’s find out whose organizing this and hold them accountable,” he added.
Surrounded by County Polk Sheriff Grady Judd, as well as police chiefs from across the state, DeSantis indicated that the new package of measures was designed to suppress violent and disorderly protests.
Also, along with the Republican were Chris Sprowls, a member of the Florida House of Representatives, and Wilton Simpson of the State Senate.
“It’s a very solid package. I think what you’re warning is that we’re not going to let Florida go down the road that other places (in the country) have gone.”
Another component of the new package of measures envisages eliminating the ability of local governments to withdraw funds from law enforcement agencies.
“We will not allow municipal governments to leave the police unfunded. If they do, then the state will eliminate any grants or help they receive,” he said.
Polk‘s sheriff called what was announced by the Republican governor “extraordinary.”
“This is a state that people want to come to on vacation. This is a state where people can grow their business. This is a state where you can be sure,” Judd said.
In a statement, the Florida Democratic Party called the bill a “radical political trick by Governor DeSantis” on Monday.
“The fact that he and Republican lawmakers can devise a plan to criminalize peaceful protests without regard to our broken unemployment system and COVID-19 shows how little they really care about Floridians” said Terrie Rizzo, Florida president of the Democratic Party.
Republican DeSantis’ announcement comes at a time when President Donald Trump makes the law one of the focuses of his re-election campaign.