As of Monday in Florida, a gathering of three or more people can be labeled a “riot”—and if they’re blocking the road and you feel frightened, it’s generally OK to run them over with a car. Historic monuments, however—Confederate and otherwise—receive special protection under the law.
These are just some of the stipulations created by Florida’s new controversial anti-protest bill, which Gov. Ron DeSantis, flanked by law enforcement officers at the Polk County Sheriff's Office, signed into law on Monday.
“It’s the strongest anti-rioting pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country. There’s nothing even close,” DeSantis said at a press conference. “We’re not going to end up like Portland.”
The “Combatting Public Disorder Bill,” or HB1, is the latest attempt to crack down on First Amendment activity in the wake of the nationwide protest movement that was triggered by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. Florida’s bill, as with those introduced in 45 states this year, has been widely criticized by civil liberties groups who fear that the law will be used disproportionately to criminalize Black-led protests against police brutality and racial injustice.