Florida Gov DeSantis signs new anti-riot bill that cracks down on violent protests and stops police budgets from being cut on the same day as Derek Chauvin's closing arguments
* The bill that aims to crack down on violent protests comes into effect immediately in Florida
* Gov Ron DeSantis signed the bill, officially known as HB 1, on Monday as closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial
over George Floyd's death were held
* The bill increases the criminal penalties for those who commit crimes during a riot, including assault and defacing
monuments and public property
* The bill also allows local governments to be sued if they fail to prevent a riot breaking out and protests police budgets
from being cut
* It also gives civil immunity to people who drive into protesters who have forcibly blocked roads
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has signed a new anti-riot bill into law on the same day as closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial over George Floyd's death.
The Republican-backed bill, which aims to crack down on violent protests, comes into effect immediately and is response to the riots that broke out in the wake of the police killing of Floyd in Minneapolis last summer.
DeSantis signed the bill, officially known as HB 1, on Monday at a press conference at the Polk County Sheriff's Office headquarters.
'I think it's really remarkable if you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation,' he said.
'It is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country. There's just nothing even close.'
It will increase the criminal penalties for those who commit crimes during a riot, including assault and defacing monuments and public property. It will be punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
'This bill protects all monuments in Florida. You have no right to go in and take down monuments, we're not going to let the mob win the day with that,' DeSantis said.
It also creates a new second-degree felony called aggravated riot that can see people charged when a riot has more than 25 participants and causes bodily harm, more $5,000 in property damage or blocks roadways by force.
The bill allows local governments to be sued if they fail to prevent a riot breaking out and adds language to state law that could force local governments to justify a reduction in law enforcement budgets.
It gives civil immunity to people who drive into protesters who have blocked roads and also prevents those who have been charged in relation to a riot from being released on bail until after their first court appearance.
'Just think about it, you're driving home from work, and all of a sudden, you have people out there shutting down a highway, and we worked hard to make sure that didn't happen in Florida,' DeSantis said.
'They start to do that, there needs to be swift penalties.'
The bill builds on several measures DeSantis introduced last summer as a response to the violent protests following George Floyd's death at the hands of police.
Republicans say the bill is designed to protect people and property. They have hit back at suggestions that the bill will impact freedom of speech.
'Rights have limits, and violence is where the line is drawn,' said Republican Sen. Danny Burgess, who carried the bill in the Senate. 'This bill is about preventing violence.'
Those who oppose the bill, however, say it aims to stop protests altogether and violate the First Amendment Rights of people involved in groups like Black Lives Matter.
The American Civil Liberties Union previously said the new law would give police broad discretion over what constitutes a demonstration and a riot.
'The bill was purposely designed to embolden the disparate police treatment we have seen over and over again directed towards black and brown people who are exercising their constitutional right to protest,' said Micah Kubic, the executive director of ACLU of Florida.
It was first filed in the Florida House of Representatives in January before being passed by the Senate, 23-17, last Thursday.
The bill was sent to Florida's Republican governor as new protests erupted last week in a Minneapolis suburb after another fatal police shooting of black man Daunte Wright and as closing arguments started in Derek Chauvin's trial.
In Minneapolis, where the trial is taking place, the city is already taking precautions in case of unrest.
More than 3,000 members of the National Guard have been drafted into the city, in addition to 1,100 officers from public safety agencies across the state as part of what has been termed Operation Safety Net.
Businesses have already been boarded up and the area around Hennepin County Government Center, where Chauvin's trial is being held, has already been fortified with concrete barricades and multiple layers of high-security fencing topped by barbed wire. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-9487795/Florida-Gov-DeSantis-signs-new-anti-riot-bill.html