Tallahassee, FL – Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a measure to combat violent protesting and riots on Monday that laid out “clear and predictable penalties” if the “scraggly-looking antifa types” who have ravaged Portland in recent months decide to try the same thing in Florida.
The proposed legislation would make it a third-degree felony to participate in a violent assembly, WFLA reported.
Furthermore, tearing down or destroying monuments would become a second-degree felony and blocking roadways would be a first-degree felony.
DeSantis said the initiative would also allow the state of Florida to withhold funding from municipalities that cut funding from their police departments, WFLA reported.
“We are not going to permit localities to defund the police,” the governor said. “If you defund the police, then the state is going to defund any grant or aids coming to you.”
DeSantis said the state would waive sovereign immunity to let business owners and residents sue those jurisdictions who had cut police funding.
“We are not going to let Florida go down the road that some of these other places have gone,” the governor vowed.
He said he would not allow the “disorder and tumult” that has occurred in Portland and other cities.
“You all have situations where buildings will be in flames, and on TV, even though sometimes the news will say its peaceful, you see the flames behind there. And I think that this has been a really, really sad chapter in American in history,” the governor told reporters.
“Now in Florida, when we started to see some of the disorder, we immediately moved to mobilize the National Guard,” DeSantis explained. “We had Florida Highway Patrol Quick Response Teams ready to go sent them to the various communities who needed the support whether it was in Central Florida or Southern Florida. And we had law enforcement officers all through the state who were intent on keeping the people safe, keeping people’s businesses secure.”
“I think they did a great job and you didn’t see the type of disorder here in the state of Florida that you throughout many other parts of the country,” he said. “But I think we need to do more than what we’ve already done.”
The governor said his administration would stand behind police.
“I can tell you this, when there is a victim in need in the state of Florida, regardless of race, color, or creed… these folks are going to respond,” DeSantis promised.
He said he wouldn’t play “Whack-a-Mole” in dealing with problems and instead had introduced the “boldest and most comprehensive piece of legislation to address these issues anywhere in the country.”
DeSantis also said Florida would not allow activists to accost people in restaurants or other businesses as has been happening in DC, Pittsburgh, and other cities.
The proposed legislation would also increase penalties and create mandatory minimum jail sentences for those who assault law enforcement officers during riots, WFLA reported.
Those offenses can be enhanced if the suspect throws anything during a violent protest and it hits a cop or civilian or if they assault an officer during a riot.
DeSantis said there would also be enhanced charge against rioters who traveled from out of state to cause chaos in Florida, WFLA reported.
He said the bill would give maximum penalties to protesters from out of state who violently protest in Florida and take their arrests a step further even.
“We’re going to find out who’s organizing and funding that and we’re going to have them prosecuted,” the governor vowed.
“I look at what goes on in Portland, and they’ll have people, they’ll arrest them – these are all scraggly-looking antifa types – they get their mugshot taken and they get released,” DeSantis told reporters. “It’s like a carousel, on and on it goes. That’s not going to happen in Florida.”
He said that if a protester throws a brick at a police officer, they’re going to jail with mandatory minimum sentences and no bail before first appearance.
A big group of sheriffs and police chiefs joined the governor on the dais to endorse his proposed legislation.
“You have no idea, governor … how proud we are of you just being here and saying we’re going to introduce this legislation, just being here and saying you’re going to support us,” Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd told DeSantis, WFLA reported.
Polk County hosted the press event and its sheriff brought cue cards to demonstrate the differences between a peaceful protest and a riot.
“If you loot, the next thing you can try to steal is something for your food tray in the county jail,” Sheriff Judd warned. “Because you’re going to jail. That’s a guarantee.”