Governor DeSantis wants rioters and supportive cities to pay the price
As every parent knows, if you don't instantly penalize bad behavior, the child will continue the behavior. The same holds true for criminals. That's why, in Florida, Gov. Ron DeSantis held a press conference on Monday announcing that he's proposing a new law that will impose instant, mandatory, and severe penalties for the destructive and dangerous behaviors we've seen across America as BLM and Antifa have taken to the streets. His goal is to prevent Florida communities from suffering as Minneapolis and Kenosha have.
DeSantis was backed by a phalanx of sheriffs and police officers as he told a small number of socially distanced journalists about the proposed law:
Florida leaders plan to crack down on protesters involved in what Gov. Ron DeSantis called "disorderly assemblies," including making it a felony to block a road, topple monuments or gather in a small group where violence breaks out.
DeSantis on Monday proposed a tough new law, which opponents swiftly labeled unconstitutional, in response to demonstrations that erupted nationwide after the death of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The legislation will be filed for the next session that convenes in March.
The law would include minimum six-month jail terms for anyone found guilty of throwing an object at law enforcement officers. It would also define as felonies blocking roadways, taking down monuments, or harassing people in public, among other things.
Seven or more people "involved in an assembly [that causes] damage to property or injury to other persons" would be committing a felony, and city and counties that try to defund the police would lose their state funding.
Another provision would shield drivers from liability "for injury and death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob."
One of the most impressive parts of the proposed law is that it would penalize communities that do nothing to protect citizens and their property from the violence. In that case, he says, the cities and their officials would lose their government immunity. They would also lose any funding that they normally receive from the state.
The proposed law also ensures that Florida's criminal justice system doesn't engage in "catch and release" with violent protesters. Anyone arrested would be able to post bail only after the initial court hearing.
As noted in the quoted language, above, the usual suspects instantly claimed that the law violates Floridians' First Amendment rights. This is nonsense. The First Amendment recognizes "the right of the people peaceably to assemble." The law targets those who have forgotten the "peaceable" part and, instead, are assaulting bystanders, hurling projectiles at police, destroying property, and otherwise using the cover of the mob to engage in criminal activities.
To the extent all those activities are already illegal, the law is redundant. It is a sign of the times that DeSantis needs to impose increased penalties for these actions, and that individuals, municipalities, and leftist prosecutors must be reminded that violence does not play a part in constitutional free speech.
Image: Ron DeSantis press conference. Facebook screen grab.