On Monday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed into law a controversial bill that increases penalties for crimes committed during a “riot,” which civil rights groups have denounced as unconstitutional. DeSantis at the bill’s signing: “We wanted to make sure that we were able to protect the people of our great state, people’s businesses and property against any type of mob activity or violent assemblies.”
The bill, effective immediately, would allow authorities to hold protesters arrested for misdemeanors without bail until their first court appearance. The law also establishes new felonies for organizing or participating in a violent demonstration and offers “civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road” and creates protections for Confederate monuments and other historical memorials, and makes it more difficult for local governments to decrease their law enforcement budgets.
Opponents of the bill say it curtails citizens’ First Amendment rights to peaceful assembly and free speech. Micah Kubic, the executive director of ACLU of Florida, previously called the bill “racist, unconstitutional, and anti-democratic.
Editorial credit: YES Market Media / Shutterstock.com