Federalism to the rescue as states preparing anti-riot legislation

Rioting is now a regular feature of political activism in the United States with catastrophic consequences for many small businesses looted and burned in the name some cause or another.  In far too many jurisdictions, incredible leniency has been offered to left-wing rioters, unlike the people involved in the January 6 incursion into the U.S. Capitol.

Fortunately, federalism still exists in the United States, and countermeasures to block or at least mitigate the effects of rioting are making their way through at least two state legislatures.  In Florida, as NBC reports:

The Florida Senate on Thursday passed, largely along party lines, a controversial anti-riot bill that was pushed by GOP Gov. Ron DeSantis in the wake of Black Lives Matter protests last summer.

The bill would increase criminal penalties for assaulting law enforcement officials while engaging in a "riot" and defacing monuments and other public property during riots. It would also penalize local governments that interfere with law enforcement efforts to contain riots and set up a citizen's appeal process when cities and counties try to reduce police budgets in response to riots.

The final vote in the Senate was 23-17, with one Republican voting with Democrats in opposition. The bill passed the GOP-controlled House in late March. 

With both legislative chambers passing the bill and Governor DeSantis in support, it should soon be law.  Florida stores, restaurants, and other small businesses targeted by looters can breathe a little easier.

Minnesota's Legislature should take a look at the Florida legislation, even though that state's governor, Tim Walz, is a mush-headed progressive who likely wouldn't sign any such bill.  The hundreds of businesses burned out, looted, or otherwise destroyed in last summer's George Floyd riots can take no consolation, nor can those businesses currently being attacked by mobs in Brooklyn Center.

Air TV screen grab.

Meanwhile, in Oklahoma, the plague of demonstrators blocking highways in support of some cause or another, and thereby blocking ambulances, fire trucks, and other emergency vehicles, along with innocent travelers prevented from reaching their destinations in a timely manner, may be diminished if this legislation becomes law.  The Hill reports:

Oklahoma's Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that would provide legal protections to drivers who hit protesters blocking roadways, FOX23 reported

The legislation, House Bill 1674, was passed in a 38-10 vote by the Senate and will now head to Gov. Kevin Stitt (R) for his signature.

Oklahoma Democrats argued that the bill will be harmful to peaceful protesters and innocent bystanders, as it could lead to more punishment for them. 

But the state's Republicans argue that it will protect drivers and their families who are in the middle of an unorganized protest. 

I am sorry, but blocking roadways is not "peaceful protest."  It denies the right of free passage to others in the name of some personal desire for political change.

Being surrounded by angry protesters while behind the wheel of a car can be frightening and induce panic.  Drivers who are put in that situation by people pushing their own cause do deserve protection against liability, for they are innocent victims.

I hope other jurisdictions follow these two states' lead.

All too many people regard rioting as a force of nature, a natural consequence when events that anger some people — usually favored minorities — occur.  That attitude most definitely is not applied to the Capitol Hill rioters.  Neutral legislation that equally penalizes all rioters, and equally protects those innocents caught in a riot, is the solution.

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