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“Are you going to stand with victims? Or are you going to stand with the mob?”
That was the question posed by Florida’s Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday, as he announced a legislative initiative intended to crack down on lawless actions often associated with the Black Lives Matter political movement.
“Recently in our country, we have seen attacks on law enforcement, we’ve seen disorder and tumult in many cities across the country,” DeSantis said. “You will have situations where buildings will be in flames and on TV, even though sometimes the news will say it’s peaceful, you will see the flames behind there.”
Calling it a “really, really sad chapter in American history,” the governor proposed a legislative initiative he said “would probably be the boldest and most comprehensive piece of legislation to address these issues anywhere in the country.”
Speaking at the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, DeSantis said the proposal, if passed by the Republican-controlled Florida legislature, would make it a third-degree felony to participate in a violent or disorderly assembly.
“We will also require a felony if you incapacitate any of the roadways,” DeSantis said. “We see people take over interstate [highways], that is absolutely hazardous, it’s not fair to motorists if they get caught up in that. So that will be unacceptable.”
But harsh consequences for lawless behavior didn’t stop there, as the governor said the initiative, titled the “Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act,” would also prohibit the destruction of public property, to include monuments.
“That’s not the way to go about it and we will hold you accountable,” he said.
In response to the popular tactic by Black Lives Matter activists to harass people at restaurants and other public places, Gov. DeSantis said that too will be prohibited.
“You see these videos of these innocent people eating dinner and you have these crazed lunatics screaming at them and intimidating them… you’re not going to do that here in the state of Florida,” he declared.
Today I announced bold legislation that creates new criminal offenses and increases penalties for those who target law enforcement and participate in violent or disorderly assemblies. We will always stand with our men and women in uniform who keep our communities safe. pic.twitter.com/ITl5GmmrZJ
— Ron DeSantis (@GovRonDeSantis) September 21, 2020
The measure includes RICO liability to anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.
“If you look at some of the people who’ve been involved in his violence, these are people who will come from all across the country … we’re going to figure out who is organizing and who’s funding that and hold them accountable,” DeSantis explained.
Citing the city of Portland, where Antifa militants are arrested and released, often with no bail, DeSantis said there will be no “carousel” in Florida jails.
“If you are involved in a violent or disorderly assembly and you harm somebody, if you throw a brick and hit a police officer, you’re going to jail,” DeSantis said. “And there is going to be a mandatory minimum jail sentence of at least six months for anyone who strikes a police officer with a weapon or a projectile.”
He said that people who are arrested for these violations will not get bail before their first appearance before a judge.
“If you are from another state and you come to participate in one of these violent or disorderly assemblies, you’re going to have extra penalties imposed on you as well,” DeSantis said.
As for Democrat-run cities and municipalities that may be looking to defund police, the governor detailed a “citizen and taxpayer protection measure” that would block state grants and aid from going to these local governments.
“If you defund the police, then the state is going to defund any grant or aid coming to you,” he said.
Addressing victim compensation, the Republican politician said the proposal would waive sovereign immunity and allow local governments that are “grossly negligent” in protecting citizens and property to be sued.
“This is a very robust package,” DeSantis said. “I think what it is saying is we are not going to let Florida go down the road to where some of these other places have gone.”
Other states should look to the Florida proposal as an effective example of how to put an end to the insanity that continues to play out by political activists who want to hold our society hostage.