By Ben Keller -
Protests surrounding George Floyd's murder not only began protests against civil rights violations but also support for civil rights legislation.
Protesters against Floyd's death began as part of international responses to a video showing Derrick Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes. While most protests were peaceful, those that were violent left an impact among worldwide as well as American citizens, pro-police, and brutality apologists leading the way for drastic, preventive legislative measures to be put in place.
One of those taking initiative is Governor Ron DeSantis whose 61 page “combating public disorder act” or more commonly known as the ‘anti-riot law. The statute went into effect immediately despite its uprising and controversy caused by the current legislature in the state of Florida.
The bill defines a “riot” as three or more people that willingly participated in a violent public disturbance. In an attempt to protect businesses and law enforcement this bill enhances penalties of the acts committed during a riot, it grants authorities the power to hold ‘alleged rioters’ in jail until their first court appearance and gives permission to individuals to run over protesters blocking the road by granting them immunity.
Qualified immunity is only granted under the claim of ‘self-defense,' state Republicans said.
When signing the bill Monday, DeSantis called it “the strongest, anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.”
Civil rights activists and other opponents of the bill saw this as a weak attempt to water down the voices of groups like Black Lives Matter and claimed it was a racist reaction by DeSantis.
A 23-page complaint from civil rights groups, filed only two days after the bills signing, argues that the legislation targets protections for free speech in the First Amendment, protections to prevent cruel and unusual punishment’s in the Eighth amendment and 14th Amendment protections of due process, according to My News 13 Florida.
By not clearly defining what constitutes a “riot,” this new law runs the risk of penalizing any protest and potentially harming peaceful protesters in the future. The lawsuit claims this bill goes against our constitutional rights while DeSantis claims it is only sending a message ‘That protesting is okay, but rioting is Unacceptable’ and will firmly defend the legal merits of the bill.
See the 23 page complaint below - For more information about the case visit this page