TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – A coalition of Black Lives Matter and other activists pushed back against Governor Ron DeSantis’ proposal to increase penalties for violent protestors Tuesday.
The governor’s efforts to curb violent protests with longer jail time, temporarily denying bail and felony charges for obstructing traffic during un-permitted protests brought disdain from protestors from across the state.
“No one leader of any movement that has organized protests following the rash of murders and public lynchings of black and brown people has advocated for looting and violence,” said Bacardi Jackson with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
When we told Gov. DeSantis about the pushback he chuckled.
“Yea, right. Let me just say, do you think it’s okay to throw a brick at a police officer? Do you think its okay to burn down buildings?” DeSantis then drew this distinction. “Protest all you want. Knock your socks off, but when it goes into violence, you know, that’s when there has to be accountability,” said DeSantis.
The protestors argue the idea of granting drivers immunity from arrest for fleeing a mob would encourage white supremacists.
Sarasota activist Ruth Beltran with the Party for Socialism and Liberation urged people not to come to Florida.
“Travelers may also encounter unjust detention, deportation, racial profiling and even death. It is not safe to travel to the state of Florida,” said Beltran.
Normally, a governor’s proposal would get taken up in a March legislative session, but DeSantis is asking lawmakers to take it up in a one day organizational session in November.
The measure would also deny any local governments state funds if they scale back on police protection.
“You pay taxes to have this kind of protection,” said DeSantis.
Gov. DeSantis did note the state has been spared from extreme violence, but said the tough measures will make sure Florida protests don’t take a violent turn.