Florida Democrats push back against Gov. DeSantis’ anti-rioting bill

Florida

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Cap News Services) – Florida Democrats are crying foul after Governor Ron DeSantis pointed to the insurrection at the Nation’s Capitol as an example of why the state needs to pass his “anti-mob” legislation.

Gov. DeSantis made the connection between the riots carried out by pro-Trump supporters and his effort at a press conference Thursday.

“The rioting and the disorder is wrong. We’re not going to tolerate it in Florida,” said DeSantis.

The governor first announced some of the measures at a press conference with Grady Judd in September at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office following the nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations, seven percent of which turned violent according to a report by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

The draft legislation provides many more specifics:

“There were some people trying to say it wasn’t a big deal to have some of these things going on. You go back to the summer, some of the commentary. I disagreed with that, but I don’t care what banner you’re flying. If you’re engaging in that conduct, we’re going to hold you accountable,” said DeSantis.

But Florida Democrats like Representative Anna Eskamani are crying foul saying that DeSantis’ comments detract from the real motivation behind the effort.

“He led this policy agenda following protests for racial justice as a political attempt on the campaign trail,” said Eskamani.

Legislation filed for the 2021 session would raise penalties for a multitude of crimes committed during a riot and prevent rioters from being released from jail until after their first hearing.

Democrats question whether those penalties would be applied uniformly.

“Because it’s very clear that when black lives matter protesters were in DC compared to these pro-Trump protesters, they were treated very differently by law enforcement officers,” said Eskamani.

The legislation also allows for residents to petition the state if their local government reduces funding for law enforcement.

It also would remove qualified immunity for local governments that prevent or hinder law enforcement response to a riot, allowing businesses and citizens to sue for civil damages in excess of $200,000.

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