Florida Democrats are uniting to push back against Governor Ron DeSantis‘s violent protest bill, announcing that they will take part in a virtual press conference on Tuesday to voice their concerns for the legislation that seeks to crack down on lawless actors who riot and loot.
The virtual event will take place on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 1:00 PM. Democratic statewide officials scheduled to attend include State Representatives Shevrin Jones (HD 101), Anna Eskamani (HD 47) Fentrice Driskell (HD 63), Carlos Guillermo-Smith (HD 49), as well as Senators Randolph Bracy (SD 11) and Oscar Braynon (SD 35).
Also on the docket are Political Director of New Florida Majority Dwight Bullard and NAACP Miami-Dade Chapter President Ruban Roberts.
*****MEDIA ADVISORY ****
Tomorrow at 1:00pm, I along with other statewide elected officials and community leaders will host a virtual press conference to oppose @GovRonDeSantis proposal for criminal penalties for protesting. pic.twitter.com/6zBtnTh70K
— Shevrin Jones (@ShevrinJones) September 21, 2020
The announcement comes hours after the governor, along with incoming GOP leadership, took a stand against violent protesters and those calling to “Defund the Police,” announcing a plan on at a press conference in Polk County on Monday to quell bad actors who seek to harm others and punish jurisdictions who view police as part of the problem.
The proposed measure, titled the “Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act,” would implement penalties for violent protests and create new criminal offenses for tearing down monuments, blocking traffic, and funding violent assemblies.
The legislation would also slash aid and state grants to local governments who seek to cut police budgets.
The bill was announced today by DeSantis, along with Senate President-Designate Wilton Simpson and House Speaker-Designate Chris Sprowls. Pushing the bill through both chambers is expected to be on the top of Republicans’ agenda during the 2021 Legislative Session.
Democratic lawmakers, however, argue that the legislation is vague and would punish peaceful protesters by levying new criminal penalties against them for exercising their constitutional rights.
A summary of the violent protest bill can be seen below:
- New Criminal Offenses to Combat Rioting, Looting and ViolenceA. Prohibition on Violent or Disorderly Assemblies: 3rd degree felony when 7 or more persons are involved in an assembly and cause damage to property or injury to other persons.B. Prohibition on Obstructing Roadways: 3rd degree felony to obstruct traffic during an unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly; driver is NOT liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.C. Prohibition on Destroying or Toppling Monuments: 2nd degree felony to destroy public property during a violent or disorderly assembly.D. Prohibition on Harassment in Public Accommodations: 1st degree misdemeanor for a participant in a violent or disorderly assembly to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.E. RICO Liability: RICO liability attaches to anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Increased PenaltiesA. Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentence: Striking a law enforcement officer (including with a projectile) during a violent or disorderly assembly = 6 months mandatory minimum jail sentence.B. Offense Enhancements: Offense and/or sentence enhancements for: (1) throwing an object during a violent or disorderly assembly that strikes a civilian or law enforcement officer; (2) assault/battery of a law enforcement officer during a violent or disorderly assembly; and (3) participation in a violent or disorderly assembly by an individual from another state.
- Citizen and Taxpayer Protection Measures
- No “Defund the Police” Permitted: Prohibits state grants or aid to any local government that slashes the budget for law enforcement services.
- Victim Compensation: Waives sovereign immunity to allow a victim of a crime related to a violent or disorderly assembly to sue local government for damages where the local government is grossly negligent in protecting persons and property.
- Government Employment/Benefits: Terminates state benefits and makes anyone ineligible for employment by state/local government if convicted of participating in a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Bail: No bond or bail until first appearance in court if charged with a crime related to participating in a violent or disorderly assembly; rebuttable presumption against bond or bail after first appearance.