Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R-FL) staff members said Thursday he is set to approve an “anti-riot” bill that will impose more severe criminal penalties on violent protesters after it is finalized.
The state Senate approved HB 1 in a 23 to 17 vote, according to Fox News.
The governor unveiled the proposal in September and advocated for its passage while protests devolved into violence and looting in major cities across the nation.
“This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished,” his office said.
“Further, this legislation ensures that no community in the state engages in defunding of their police,” it continued.
Reporter Forrest Saunders tweeted a photo of DeSantis’ statement, writing, “His staff saying he looks forward to signing the bill into law”:
— Forrest Saunders (@FBSaunders) April 15, 2021
The Fox report continued:
Aside from the enhanced criminal penalties for acts of violence during a riot, the bill contains a measure requiring state approval for any change to a municipal budget that would reduce funding for police. The clause was a response to calls to “defund the police” after the death of George Floyd last May. HB 1 institutes a felony charge for the destruction of a memorial, flag or other historical structure. It would also hold local governments civilly liable if they interfere with law enforcement efforts to respond to riots.
“Rights have limits, and violence is where the line is drawn,” Republican Sen. Danny Burgess told the Associated Press (AP). “This bill is about preventing violence.”
In regard to those involved in violence, DeSantis said in September, “These are people that will come from all across the country. If there’s any type of issue, they all of a sudden show up in all these places.”
“We’re gonna figure out who’s organizing and who’s funding that and hold them accountable,” he concluded.