Democrats raise concerns over ‘anti-riot’ bill signed by DeSantis

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — A controversial bill that stemmed from the Black Lives Matter protests following George Floyd’s death was signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday morning.

The bill is aimed at cracking down on violent protests and “combating public disorder.”

READ: Gov. DeSantis signs ‘anti-riot’ bill into law in Polk County

DeSantis and the sheriffs behind him pushed the need for and acceptance of peaceful protests.

But Democrats opposed to the bill said the big concern is that during a protest, who will make the official determination of what is a riot and what isn’t.

READ: Derek Chauvin trial: Jury begins deliberations

The parts of the bill  that Democrats were fighting the most granted civil legal immunity to people who drive through protesters blocking a road; prevented people arrested for rioting or offenses committed during a riot from bailing out of jail until their first court appearance; and imposes a six-month mandatory sentence for battery on a police officer during a riot.

But Democrats aren’t sure police will be able to always tell the difference.

READ: Chauvin trial: what happens now; who the jurors are; what sentence could Chauvin face?

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried also spoke against the bill on Tuesday saying it is illegal, will silence speech and arguing that it is straight from the playbook of a communist regime.

She called on businesses like Carnival Cruise Line and Amazon to take a stand against the bill.

Shannon Butler

Shannon Butler, WFTV.com

Shannon joined the Eyewitness News team in 2013.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.