Tampa residents hold protest against proposed Florida legislation to combat violent riots

Local News

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – People hit the streets of Tampa Sunday afternoon to show their disapproval of the “Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting, and Law Enforcement Protection Act.” It’s a bill that would crack down on violent demonstrations and attacks on police officers.

“It’s just a blatant attack to us,” said Will Blake, who is with the Tampa Bay Community Action Committee.

Governor Ron DeSantis presented HB 1, or the “Anti-Mob” legislation, back in September after Black Lives Matter protests broke out across Florida, the national, and the world.

DeSantis said the intent of the bill is to add more severe penalties on people who commit crimes during protests.

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

But these protesters don’t believe that’s the true nature of the legislation.

“There’s no legal ramifications for people who hit protesters. It’s a felony to walk in the streets,” Blake said.

The bill also states it’ll prohibit state grants or aid to any local government that “defunds the police” or slashes any of the budgets for law enforcement services.

Florida Democrats, like Representative Anna Eskamani, question if these laws would be enforced fairly.

“Because it’s very clear that when Black Lives Matter protesters went to DC compared to these pro-Trump protesters, they were treated very differently by law enforcement officers,” Eskamani said.

The bill’s supporters, including the governor, insist it’s not about one side or the other.

“I don’t care what banner you’re flying, if you’re engaging in that conduct, we’re going to hold you accountable.”

HB 1 is currently in the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

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