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Tallahassee community reacts to House vote in favor of Anti-Riot bill

Published: Mar. 26, 2021 at 6:48 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida House Bill One, or Governor Ron DeSantis’ Anti-Riot Bill, passed Friday in a 76 to 39 vote.

There’s been a lot of back and forth on this proposed legislation in the Tallahassee community. Mayor John Dailey and other leaders came out against it earlier this week.

Some are saying this bill would keep non-protestors, including law enforcement safe from possible violence. Others, however, say it’s an infringement on First Amendment rights.

The bill would create new penalties for protestors who get violent.

There have been multiple demonstrations against this bill. Those who are against it say it’s not needed with the current laws already in place, but those in favor of HB1 say events from the summer of 2020 nationwide show that extra protections are needed.

Local attorney, Mutaqee Akbar, says, “We have laws already in place that deal with criminal mischief, battery on law enforcement. I think it’s unnecessary.”

“We have to legislate to protect the rights of all of our citizens, not just destroy property and assault law enforcement officers,” Leon County Republic Party Chair, Evan Power, said.

Akbar, who is representing more than half of the “Tally19″ group, says the legislation is a direct response to the Black Lives Matter movement, and the wrong one at that.

“I think what the Tally 19 situation shows is when officers are allowed to use their discretion in responding to these protests, dependent on what the protest is about, their discretion can be out of hand,” said Akbar. “The response instead was, let’s create some legislation to kind of scare people, scare protestors from speaking out, against those activities that we’ve seen nationwide.”

Power disagrees, saying the legislation would keep those who aren’t involved in protests safe.

“Here in Tallahassee we had basically protestors who were able to do whatever they wanted, and law enforcement had to help them do that. And that’s just unacceptable,” said Power.

The bill would also allow local legislators who disagree with a local government’s decision to reduce police budgets to petition the state to overrule the decision.

The proposed legislation now moves on to the Florida Senate.

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