Gov. DeSantis signs “anti-riot” bill into law

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed HB 1, also known as the anti-riot bill, into law.

The bill passed Florida’s Senate last week 23 to 17.

“So I think this bill that I’ll sign into law shows the state of Florida takes public safety very seriously. We believe in making sure that our streets are safe. We want to make sure that our cities are prosperous. We want to make sure folks are protected,” DeSantis said before signing the bill.

The bill focuses on strengthening penalties against rioters and does the following:

  • Makes it more difficult for cities and counties to reduce funding for law enforcement, allowing local elected officials to challenge those budget decisions, and giving the state power to approve or amend the local budget
  • Allows local governments to be sued if they fail to stop a riot
  • Defines “riot” as a violent public disturbance involving 3 or more people acting with common intent resulting in injury to others, damage to property, or the imminent danger of injury or damage
  • Creates a new second-degree felony called an “aggravated riot,” which occurs when the riot has more than 25 participants, causes great bodily harm or more than $5,000 in property damage, uses or threatens to use a deadly weapon, or blocks roadways by force or threat of force

DeSantis was joined by Senate President Wilton Simpson, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, Senator Danny Burgess, Representative Juan Fernandez-Barquin, Sheriff Grady Judd, and other local law enforcement leaders, in Polk County when he signed the bill.

Opponents of the bill says that this is an attack on the first amendment rights of citizens.

“This is not an anti-riot proposal, it is actually an anti-protest proposal. This is just a republican effort designed to stop the rising tide of protest prompted by the police murder of George Floyd. The Governor wants to criminalize peaceful protestors who are merely exercising their constitutional rights. This is dog whistle, red meat legislation prepared for consumption by the Governor’s radical and far right political base,” Ben Frazier of the Northside Coalition said in a statement last week. “It is time for us to consider making a call for an economic boycott of the entire state of Florida. We will not allow the governor to stop us. We will continue to march, protest, rally and demonstrate until justice rolls down water and righteousness like a mighty stream. We will begin to protest anytime the governor shows up here in Jacksonville.”

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee

Hannah Lee is a General Assignment Reporter for 104.5 WOKV.