Florida governor proposing expanded legislation that would allow citizens to ‘defend themselves’ against suspected rioters, looters

National News

TALLAHASSEE, Fl. (WNCN/AP) — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is reportedly proposing “anti-mob” legislation that would expand the state’s Stand Your Ground law that would empower armed citizens to defend themselves against violent rioters and looters, according to the Miami Herald.

Critics believe that an expansion of the Stand Your Ground law would allow those armed citizens to shoot suspected looters or anyone engaged in “criminal mischief” that disrupts a business.

According to the Miami Herald, some lawyers are saying that the expansion is a response to police brutality-fueled protests that have taken place in Florida and across the United States and DeSantis’ pledge to quell disorder during such protests.

In some instances, peaceful protests against police brutality gave way to violence and looting, including Florida. 

Back in September, DeSantis pledged to “get tough” on people who engage in violence during protests.

“You see these videos of these innocent people eating dinner and you have these crazed lunatics just screaming at them and intimidating them,” DeSantis said. “You’re not going to do that in the state of Florida.”

The September announcement yielded proposed legislation that would impose felony-level penalties on anyone who damages property, causes injury, or destroys public property during a protest.

“The governor is attaching himself to Donald Trump’s propaganda and manufacturing a non-existent law and order crisis in Florida,” said Senate Democratic Leader Audrey Gibson back in September. “It’s political fearmongering to bolster a president’s re-election bid.”

According to Florida’s version of the law, it currently states that use of force is justified if a person is presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or great bodily harm to himself or herself or another when using or threatening to use defensive force that is intended or likely to cause death or great bodily harm to another.

Also, the person against whom the defensive force was used or threatened was in the process of unlawfully and forcefully entering, or had unlawfully and forcibly entered, a dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle, or if that person had removed or was attempting to remove another against that person’s will from the dwelling, residence, or occupied vehicle.

“The right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. This is an attempt to chill legitimate dissent and somehow equate protests against police killing Black people with criminal activity despite the clear evidence that the protests occurring in Florida are overwhelmingly peaceful,” said Kelly Benjamin, co-founder of Tampa for Justice.

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