Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) has drafted an "anti-mob" addition that would expand the state's Stand Your Ground law in the aftermath of mass unrest in the country during the summer. In many of the areas where rioters and looters roamed free in the absence of police presence, armed civilians often filled the gap to protect themselves and their livelihoods.
The draft proposal would expand the list of "forcible felonies" that justify the use of force against people who are engaged in criminal mischief that results in the "interruption or impairment" of a business, and looting, which the draft defines as a burglary within 500 feet of a "violent or disorderly assembly," according to the Miami Herald.
The proposal is part of a package DeSantis unveiled in September that brings harsher penalties on rioters, looters, and people who attack police officers during unlawful assemblies:
- Prohibition on violent or disorderly assemblies: 3rd-degree felony when 7 or more persons are involved in an assembly and cause damage to property or injury to other persons.
- Prohibition on obstructing roadways: 3rd-degree felony to obstruct traffic during an unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly; diver is NOT liable for injury or death if fleeing for safety from a mob.
- Prohibition on destroying or toppling monuments: 2nd-degree felony to destroy public property during a violent riot or disorderly assembly.
- Prohibition on harassment in public accommodations: 1st-degree misdemeanor for a participant in a violent or disorderly assembly to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.
- RICO liability: RICO liability attaches to anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Striking a law enforcement officer (including with a projectile) during a violent riot or disorderly assembly = 6 months mandatory minimum jail sentence.
- State grants and aid are prohibited to any local government that slashes funding to law enforcement.
The expansion to the state's Stand Your Ground laws have unsurprisingly been met with criticism from Florida Democrats.
"It’s clear that the Trump beauty pageant is still going on with governors and senators, who all want to be the next Trump. And the governor is clearly a very good contestant," Miami Beach Mayor Dan Gelber told the Herald, adding the draft bill "sounds like an invitation to incite violence."
The mass rioting the country experienced after the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody, when an officer knelt on his neck for almost ten minutes, resulted in tremendous damage in many cities. Axios reported in September the damage could cost $1 billion to $2 billion in paid insurance claims.