Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis pushed legislation that he described as “bold” on Monday. Judging by the plain text of the proposal and the responses to it, bold is an understatement.
Under the “new criminal offenses” section established by the would-be Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act, DeSantis declared it a third-degree felony to obstruct traffic during an “unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly.” Notably, the next clause purports to remove liability for injury or death a driver causes if that driver is “fleeing for safety from a mob.
Today I announced bold legislation that creates new criminal offenses and increases penalties for those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies. We will always stand with our men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe. pic.twitter.com/ITl5GmmrZJ
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 21, 2020
Former Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D), who lost the gubernatorial election to DeSantis in 2018, immediately called for legal advocacy groups to bring “legal action,” saying that the DeSantis move “would have legalized the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville.”
This legislation would have legalized the murder of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville.
— Andrew Gillum (@AndrewGillum) September 21, 2020
“Avowed neo-Nazi” James Alex Fields Jr. was sentenced to centuries in prison for the running over and killing Heather Heyer when plowing his car into a crowd of counter-protesters during the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
A wild document. Felony collective punishment for anyone who attends a protest where property is damaged, while vehicular murder or manslaughter is effectively legalized. Plus if your city council acts to reduce the police budget, the state defunds everything. https://t.co/0scGoFd1XO
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) September 21, 2020
DeSantis’s legislation would also criminalize the destruction of monuments and purports to to attach racketeering liability to “anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.” DeSantis also seeks mandatory minimum sentences for striking law enforcement officers.
The governor further threatens local governments with loss of “state grants or aid” if they support “Defund the Police” initiatives.
[Image via Joe Raedle/Getty Images]
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