Gov. DeSantis signs ‘anti-riot’ bill into Florida law

FLORIDA — Gov. Ron DeSantis signed House Bill 1, more commonly referred to as his “anti-riot” bill, into Florida law Monday morning.

The bill was first filed in the Florida House of Representatives and Senate on Jan. 6, 2021, the same day rioters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

The law puts new penalties in place for people planning to participate in future protests in Florida.

Under the new law, called the “Combating Public Disorder Act,” those penalties include new criminal offenses and harsher penalties for protesters who engage in violent or disorderly rallies.

The law protects police officers and victims of violent demonstrations, “while simultaneously guarding the Constitutionally protected First Amendment right to peaceably assemble.”

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“In Florida, we are taking an unapologetic stand for the rule of law and public safety.  We are holding those who incite violence in our communities accountable, supporting our law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe and protecting Floridians from the chaos of mob violence. We’re also putting an end to the bullying and intimidation tactics of the radical left by criminalizing doxing and requiring restitution for damaging memorials and monuments by rioters. I am proud to sign this bill into law and appreciate the diligence of our elected leaders in the state legislature, especially Senator Stargel, Senator Burgess, Representative Fernandez-Barquin, Representative Perez and Representative Byrd, for getting this proposal to my desk so swiftly,” DeSantis said.

In February, Action News Jax spoke to lawmakers on both sides of the aisle about how this will affect protestors’ rights, moving forward.

Florida State Representative John Fischer, of House District 16, supported it. He believes it would discourage people from crossing the threshold from peaceful protest into violence.

STORY: Understanding HB1: Governor DeSantis’ Proposed Protest Bill

Florida State Representative Tracie Davis, of House District 13, said she was against it. She said it’s already illegal to riot, incite violence and damage property— making this legislation, unnecessary.

Jacksonville Sheriff Mike Williams provided a statement on the new bill:

“I am very pleased that our Governor has demonstrated yet again his support for law enforcement in signing House Bill 1 – the Anti-Riot Bill. Jacksonville, along with the rest of the state is ready to work together to build stronger bridges of trust and cooperation while maintaining public safety. Public Safety is paramount for everyone in Florida – our families, our neighbors and our businesses.”

Aurielle Eady, Action News Jax

Aurielle Eady is a digital content producer for Action News Jax.