Judge blocks enforcement of Florida’s ‘anti-riot’ law

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Just months after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a bill into law designed to crack down on riots and protests, a federal judge has temporarily blocked the enforcement of the most key components of the law.

The judge cited violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution in the ruling issued Thursday afternoon.

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“This definition of ‘riot’ casts a broad net,” Judge Mark E. Walker wrote in a 90-page order. “Thus, while there may be some Floridians who welcome the chilling effect that this law has on the plaintiffs in this case, depending on who is in power, next time it could be their ox being gored.”

The injunction prohibits DeSantis or Florida sheriffs from enforcing the definition of “riot” as laid out in the law while the overarching federal case continues.

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The plaintiff organizations released a joint statement, saying in part, “H.B.1 effectively criminalizes our constitutional right to peacefully protest and puts anyone -- particularly Black people demonstrating against police violence -- at risk of unlawful arrest, injury and even death.”

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