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Democrats push back against DeSantis’ anti-rioting bill

Florida's historic capitol building and current state capitol building, in Tallahassee on...
Florida's historic capitol building and current state capitol building, in Tallahassee on August 31, 2013.(WEAU)
Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 3:23 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) - Florida Democrats are crying foul after Gov. Ron DeSantis pointed to the insurrection at the nation’s Capitol as an example of why the state needs to pass tougher anti-rioting laws.

The governor made the connection between the riots carried out by pro-Trump supporters and his effort at a press conference Thursday.

“The rioting and the disorder is wrong. We’re not going to tolerate it in Florida,” said DeSantis.

The governor first pushed to increase penalties for crimes committed during a riot following the nationwide Black Lives Matter demonstrations, 7% of which turned violent according to a report by The Armed Conflict Location & Event Data Project.

“There were some people trying to say it wasn’t a big deal to have some of these things going on. You go back to the summer, some of the commentary. I disagreed with that, but I don’t care what banner you’re flying. If you’re engaging in that conduct, we’re going to hold you accountable,” said DeSantis.

But Florida Democrats, like Representative Anna Eskamani, are crying foul.

Eskamani said the governor’s comments detract from the real motivation behind the effort.

“He led this policy agenda following protests for racial justice as a political attempt on the campaign trail,” said Eskamani.

Legislation filed for the 2021 session would raise penalties for a multitude of crimes committed during a riot and prevent rioters from being released from jail until after their first hearing.

Democrats question whether those penalties would be applied uniformly.

“Because it’s very clear that when Black Lives Matter protesters were in DC compared to these pro-Trump protesters, they were treated very differently by law enforcement officers,” said Eskamani.

The legislation also allows for residents to petition the state if their local government reduces funding for law enforcement.

It also would remove qualified immunity for local governments that prevent or hinder law enforcement’s response to a riot, allowing businesses and citizens to sue for civil damages in excess of $200,000.

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