On Thursday, the Florida Senate voted 23-17 in favor of an “anti-riot” bill that would increase criminal penalties for assault against law enforcement and defacing monuments and public property during riots.
One Republican joined all the Democrats in voting against the measure, which would also penalize local governments that interfere with law enforcement trying to contain riots. Following last summer’s Black Lives Matter protests, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) pushed for the bill, and critics say it’s a way to curtail First Amendment rights and silence political dissent. Supporters of the measure believe it makes police officers safer.
In a statement, DeSantis, who is expected to sign the bill as soon as next week, said the legislation “strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble, while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished.”