Miami, FL – This week, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis announced a bill that would chip away at the rights of protesters exercising their first amendment rights in the state. The “Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act” would further target and criminalize peaceful protesters by issuing third degree felonies to individuals who obstruct traffic without a permit or participate in gatherings of seven or more people that end in injuries or property damage, among other attacks. The bill would also withhold state funding to any local government that proposes to cut its law enforcement budgets.
Thomas Kennedy, Florida Coordinator of United We Dream Action, said:
“Governor DeSantis’ proposed legislation is a gross distraction from the real problems putting Floridian lives at risk. While thousands of Floridians remain unemployed, face eviction and continue to struggle to make ends meet amidst the pandemic, Governor DeSantis has opted to attack our constitutional rights. It’s clear that he doesn’t care about the safety and well-being of Floridians. This proposed attack is yet another tactic to hide DeSantis’ inability to do his job by persecuting those who are peacefully holding him and other elected officials accountable.
More than 13,000 Floridians have died from COVID-19, nearly two million have filed for unemployment claims and thousands more are on the verge of eviction. Floridians need support during this crisis. DeSantis should prioritize their relief, not incarceration. DeSantis must stop hiding and distracting from his failed response to the pandemic and his disregard for our lives. Instead, he must provide the COVID-19 relief our communities need now!