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Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Unveils Bill To Stiffen Penalties for Protesters and Punish Towns That Cut Police Budgets

Added 09-22-20 04:21:01pm EST - “The parts that aren't constitutionally dubious are brainless culture-war fodder.” - Reason.com

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Posted By TheNewsCommenter: From Reason.com: “Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis Unveils Bill To Stiffen Penalties for Protesters and Punish Towns That Cut Police Budgets”. Below is an excerpt from the article.

Republican Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis announced legislation Monday to crack down on what he called "violent" protests, but civil liberties groups say it's an obvious attempt to punish protected First Amendment activities.

DeSantis' proposed legislation is called the Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act. The bill would raise criminal penalties for protest-related offenses, make organizers and other participants liable for violence and/or property destruction that occurs at protests, and block state funding to county and local governments that cut law enforcement budgets, among other provisions.

"Our right to peacefully assemble is one of our most cherished as Americans, but throughout the country we've seen that right being taken advantage of by professional agitators, bent on sowing disorder and causing mayhem in our cities," DeSantis said at a press conference Monday, flanked by Republican leaders and law enforcement officials. "I will not allow this kind of violence to occur here in Florida."

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

The proposal is part of a trend of conservative lawmakers introducing bills to further criminalize protests following massive demonstrations and violent unrest this summer over the police killing of George Floyd. Last month, Republican Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed a bill into law making it a felony for protesters to camp on state grounds and criminalize marking government buildings with chalk.

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