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Florida governor proposes bill to impose felony charges on rioters, penalize cities for 'defunding police'

On Monday, DeSantis proposed legislation titled "Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act."

JACKSONVILLE, Fla — Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled a bill Monday aimed at imposing felony charges for those who participate in "violent, disorderly" assemblies in the state of Florida.

During a news conference at the Polk County Sheriff's Office in Winter Haven, Florida, the governor said his legislation, titled "Combating Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act," would be the focal point of the 2020 legislative session.

If approved, anyone who is arrested at "violent, disorderly" assemblies could face third-degree felony charges and be denied bail until their first court appearance. 

The legislation also proposes a mandatory jail sentence of "at least six months" to those who attack law enforcement officers at said protests.

"We have zero tolerance for violence, zero tolerance for disorder and zero tolerance for looting," he said.

Additionally, DeSantis said he also wants to crack down on cities that threaten to defund the police.

"If you defund the police, the state will defund any grants or aids coming to you," he said.

According to the governor's office, the Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act has three components:

"1) 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.

 2) 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.

 3) 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."

Watch the news conference below: