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Florida Senate passes “anti-riot” bill amid racial unrest

The legislation will increase criminal punishment for those who assault law enforcement officers and deface public property and monuments during a “riot.”

Ron DeSantis Getty Images

On Thursday (April 15), the Florida Senate passed an ”anti-riot” bill that Governor Ron DeSantis pushed for last summer.

According to NBC News, the legislation will increase criminal punishment for those who assault law enforcement officers and deface public property and monuments during a “riot.” It will also “penalize local governments that interfere with law enforcement efforts to contain riots and set up a citizen’s appeal process when cities and counties try to reduce police budgets in response to riots.”

Democrats argued that the bill, which was passed in the Senate 23-17, will affect people's First Amendment rights and restrict political disapproval. Republicans argued that it would prevent public disorder and protect law enforcement officials.

DeSantis said in a statement that he “looks forward” to signing the legislation and is expected to do so as early as next week.

“This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble, while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protests to cause violence in our communities will be punished,” DeSantis said in a statement. “Further, this legislation ensures that no community in the state engages in defunding of their police.”

On Thursday (April 15), REVOLT reported that the Oklahoma Senate passed a bill that protected drivers who hit protesters during a riot. According to House Bill 1674, drivers will not face charges or lawsuits if they injure or kill someone while trying to get away from a violent demonstration. This comes after a recent incident in Tulsa that involved a confrontation on the highway between a driver and demonstrators who took over the roads. The driver drove a trailer through the crowd and forced some of the protesters to the edge of an overpass and one person fell off.

The legislation is now headed to Governor Kevin Stitt’s desk for a signature.

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