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HB1/SB484 DeSantis Anti-Protest Bill

Florida Legislators’ are fast-tracking Governor Ron DeSantis’ 52 page bill (HB1/SB484) which supports draconian police state measures to criminalize Black Lives Matter protestors and peaceful dissenters in the state.

CURRENT STATUS - On agenda for its second House committee stop the House Judiciary Appropriations on:

HELP STOP HB1 - Take action on or before February 4th and SEND EMAILS to Florida Legislators in the House Judiciary Appropriations Committee and tell them to OPPOSE HB1 in the form below.

https://actionnetwork.org/letters/email-fl-legislators-oppose-hb1-desantiss-anti-protest-bill

Florida currently faces the worst economic and public health crisis in history and instead of working to find solutions Florida lawmakers Rep. Fernandez-Barquin and Senator Burgess repackaged legislation put forward by Governor DeSantis and filed it on January 6th, 2021 as a law and order “response to the violent insurrectionist mobs” of Trump supporters that attempted an armed coup on the nation’s Capital. This language is a smokescreen for the true intent of the bill which is to: 1) circumvent the mess that Florida has as a consequence of bad governance during a pandemic and 2) heighten persecution of BLM protestors for speaking out about racist police violence and the lack of government support for the most impacted.

Right-wing messaging is that this bill is “combatting public disorder” caused by rioting and looting after or during a protest but Section 870 and Section 775 of the currently existing Florida Statute criminalizes riots, unlawful assemblies, and looting. Do we really need a sixty page anti-mob bill to handle the few looters the state has seen? Of course not.

What the bill is really doing is raising sentencing and fines for laws already on the books, redefining arrest categories to make them more open-ended, and making it legal for motorists who strike protestors with their vehicle, even if the incident results in someone’s death. Furthermore, the bill limits people’s ability to apply to Florida’s already broken unemployment system if they have been convicted under the proposed legislation and allows victims of violent crimes to recover civil damages from a local government that it deems responsible for grossly negligent “policing” during a “riot”.

The Executive Director of the ACLU of Florida, Micah Kubic, stated that: “This (bill) is not an attempt to make our communities safer. This proposed legislation by DeSantis is nothing more than a campaign political stunt. Now, it is being disguised as a response to the failed violent coup at the US Capitol. And, it is just as unconstitutional.”

Finally, this legislation also creates a preemptive attack on local municipalities that might want to “defund” the police and put their money towards more humanitarian initiatives to provide real solutions to small business and economic crises caused by the pandemic. Instead of restricting local government’s ability to find solutions we need legislation that answers the call of the people in the streets. People only protest when they are being abused, oppressed, marginalized or violated.

The only thing the Florida Legislature is required to do by law is pass a budget, and yet we still haven not addressed the $5.4 billion in deficit caused by the pandemic and the hundreds of thousands across the state dying, becoming homeless, and destitute. Is this really what the Florida Legislature should be focusing on?

Clearly not. We need to answer the call of the people in the streets. Not arrest them.

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