SARASOTA, Fla. (WWSB) - Gov. Ron DeSantis announced legislation that will targets assemblies and protests that become disorderly. The governor made the announcement from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office surrounded by law enforcement officials from around the state.
The governor said the proposed bill will target assemblies that block roadways and looting and vandalism. DeSantis cited the ongoing issues in Portland involving protesters and the influx of arrests in Oregon.
Citing the clear need for clear and predictable penalties so that there would be no confusion, DeSantis outlined his proposal, which included a mandatory minimum sentence of 6 months for striking an officer.
The bill would also remove funding from cities that defund police.
The Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act has three components, outlined below:
I. New Criminal Offenses to Combat Rioting, Looting and Violence
- Prohibition on Violent or Disorderly Assemblies: 3rd degree felony when 7 or more persons are involved in an assembly and cause damage to property or injury to other persons.
- Prohibition on Obstructing Roadways: 3rd degree felony to obstruct traffic during an unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly; driver is NOT liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.
- Prohibition on Destroying or Toppling Monuments: 2nd degree felony to destroy public property during a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Prohibition on Harassment in Public Accommodations: 1st degree misdemeanor for a participant in a violent or disorderly assembly to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.
- RICO Liability: RICO liability attaches to anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.
II. Increased Penalties
- Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentence: Striking a law enforcement officer (including with a projectile) during a violent or disorderly assembly = 6 months mandatory minimum jail sentence.
- Offense Enhancements: Offense and/or sentence enhancements for: (1) throwing an object during a violent or disorderly assembly that strikes a civilian or law enforcement officer; (2) assault/battery of a law enforcement officer during a violent or disorderly assembly; and (3) participation in a violent or disorderly assembly by an individual from another state.
III. Citizen and Taxpayer Protection Measures
- No “Defund the Police” Permitted: Prohibits state grants or aid to any local government that slashes the budget for law enforcement services.
- Victim Compensation: Waives sovereign immunity to allow a victim of a crime related to a violent or disorderly assembly to sue local government for damages where the local government is grossly negligent in protecting persons and property.
- Government Employment/Benefits: Terminates state benefits and makes anyone ineligible for employment by state/local government if convicted of participating in a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Bail: No bond or bail until first appearance in court if charged with a crime related to participating in a violent or disorderly assembly; rebuttable presumption against bond or bail after first appearance.