TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Civil rights groups are seeking to invalidate a freshly signed Florida law that takes aim at demonstrations that turn violent.
They also said the law has already silenced activists wanting to speak out against police misconduct and other concerns facing their communities.
A federal lawsuit filed in federal district court in Tallahassee argues that the new law was racially motivated and has already silenced activists wanting to speak out against police misconduct and other concerns that face their communities.
Gov. Ron DeSantis signed the so-called “anti-riot” bill into law last month, after urging lawmakers to send him legislation that would enhance penalties against violent protestors in the wake of a tumultuous summer of demonstrations over the treatment of Black people by police.
Last year’s killing in Minneapolis police custody of a Black man, George Floyd, stirred protester’s passions nationwide as demonstrators under the banner of the Black Lives Matter Movement took to the streets to air their concerns.
The new law, also known as HB1, stiffens penalties for crimes committed during a riot or violent protest. It also allows authorities to detain arrested protesters until a first court appearance and establishes new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration.
Democrats say the bill will be applied unequally and used to crack down on peaceful protests for racial justice. Republicans say the bill doesn’t discriminate.