Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has announced an act that would toughen the penalties for crimes committed during a protest.
The Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act would impose stiff penalties for actions such as blocking roadways, disrupting restaurants, or toppling monuments. According to Politico, the act also allows RICO liability against anyone who organizes or funds these kinds of “disorderly assemblies.”
DeSantis called the legislation the “boldest and most comprehensive” piece of legislation on the issues of civil disobedience and protest in the country. The governor also tweeted the new legislation was aimed at “those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies.”
The act also contains a measure allowing motorists to be waived of liability should they happen to kill or injure a protester with their vehicles while “fleeing for safety from a mob.”
“This is a very robust package. I think what it’s saying is we are not going to let Florida go down the road that some of these other places have gone,” DeSantis told reporters Monday.
The proposed legislation represents President Donald Trump’s calls for “law and order,” amid a summer filled with protests and actions supporting the Black Lives Matter movement and calls to defund the police.
“You see videos of these innocent people eating dinner and you have these crazed lunatics just screaming at them and intimidating them on a public accommodation,” DeSantis said. “You aren’t going to do that in the state of Florida.”
Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, called the proposed legislation “undemocratic and hostile to Americans’ shared values.”
The next legislative session in the state isn’t until next March, but DeSantis said committees will begin meeting later this year to begin the process of crafting the language of the bill and finding sponsors.