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Florida governor drafts bill to permit violence against rioters and looters

Governor Ron DeSantis is looking to expand the controversial “Stand Your Ground” laws.

Ron DeSantis Steve Cannon/AP Photo

Florida governor Ron DeSantis is keeping his promise to enact the “strongest pro-law enforcement, anti-rioting, anti-looting legislation anywhere in the country,” per the Miami Herald. He is requesting legal permission for Florida residents to shoot rioters and looters.

DeSantis has drafted an “anti-mob” bill that seeks to expand the list of “forcible felonies” under Florida’s “stand your ground” laws — the controversial laws in question during the Trayvon Martin case. In the event that it passes, use of force against those who cause “interruption or impairment” of a business will be justified.

The bill proposes that citizens be permitted to act against looting protesters within 500 feet of a “violent or disorderly assembly,” stating that individuals in those groups should receive harsher penalties. It asks for blocking traffic to be classified a third-degree felony, and states that drivers who “accidentally” cause harm to protesters would be granted immunity. The legislation would also allow Florida to hold back funds from local governments that cut police funding.

DeSantis’ bill — which was shown to the state’s Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and the House Judiciary Committee — is a response to the many demonstrations that have occurred in the wake of George Floyd’s death and the 2020 election. The concern, however, is that the legislation will allow “vigilantes to justify their actions.”

“It dangerously gives armed private citizens power to kill as they subjectively determine what constitutes ‘criminal mischief’ that interferes with a business,” Aubrey Webb, former Miami-Dade prosecutor told the Miami Herald. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

“Someone graffiti-ing ‘Black Lives Matter’ on a wall?” he continued. “Urinating behind a dumpster? Blocking an entrance? ... The Boston Tea Party members would have been lawfully shot under Florida’s law by the British East India Tea Company.”

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