Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced the Combating Violence, Disorder, and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act Monday in the wake of recent protests over police brutality throughout the country.
The act creates additional offenses for rioting, looting and assaulting police. The act makes violent assemblies of seven people or more and obstruction of vehicles a 3rd-degree felony. Destroying or toppling monuments is a 2nd-degree felony, and harassing the public is a 1st-degree misdemeanor. Additionally, the act enhances existing sentences, removes sovereign immunity for public suits against a local government that fails to mitigate a violent riot, prevents municipalities that defund the police from receiving funding, and prevents those convicted under the act from receiving government benefits or working government jobs.
Our right to peacefully assemble is one of our most cherished as Americans, but throughout the country we’ve seen that right being taken advantage of by professional agitators, bent on sowing disorder and causing mayhem in our cities. I will not allow this kind of violence to occur here in Florida. The legislation announced today will not only combat rioting and looting, but also protect the men and women in law enforcement that wake up every day to keep us safe. I look forward to working with the Florida Legislature next session to sign this proposal into law.
The new legislation has attracted criticism from Democratic Florida lawmakers. According to Florida Politics, Broward County Representative Shevrin Jones remarked, “[This law] is a desperate violation of our constitutional rights just ahead of a critical election in which every single vote counts. This is an active, intentional effort to depress turnout and participation in the democratic process. It’s an insult.”