If you’ve been paying any attention to the news over the last year, you will know that the United States has seen a severe uptick in “peaceful” protesting, rioting, and downright mass pandemonium. For the most part, these “demonstrations” have taken place in the streets of some of our larger cities and Democratically controlled states, such as Minneapolis, Minnesota, Portland, Oregon, and San Francisco, California.
However, due to the widespread nature of these riots, most of which seem to be held, hosted and supported by leftist groups like Black Lives Matter or Antifa, there is always the fear that they could soon spill over into other areas of the country.
And that is precisely why states like Florida have recently crafted new laws to not only penalize those choosing to engage in such destructive behavior but also protect the law-abiding citizens who unfortunately get stuck in the cross-hairs.
Enter Florida’s House Bill 1: Combating Public Disorder.
The state’s Senate passed it on Thursday, and, as such, it has now been sent to the desk of Republican Governor Ron DeSantis, where it is expected to be signed into law in the coming days.
The bill strikes at a number of issues, all of which boils down to the fact that being destructive and violent during a protest or civil demonstration is illegal and will be severely punished.
According to a fact sheet about the bill put out by Gov. DeSantis, the bill, firstly, makes it a felony to obstruct traffic, destroy public property such as monuments, and “gather in a destructive assembly.”
For those who choose to throw objects or assault law enforcement during a “violent or disorderly assembly,” the legal punishment is increased. The same also goes for individuals who come from out of state for the purpose of rioting.
Furthermore, the bill copies recent measures taken by Republican Texas Governor Greg Abbott, which bans state aid to cities or local areas that are actively pushing to “defund the police.”
But what’s even more incredible about the bill is that it increases the legal protection of citizens who become threatened by such destructive mobs, particularly those who become trapped in their own vehicles.
According to the governor, it will now not only be a third-degree felony in the state to block traffic during an unpermitted protest or “violent assembly.” But it also removes any liability for innocent drivers caught in such situations, making them “NOT liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.”
Now, this doesn’t mean that drivers should necessarily be encouraged to mow over crowds of protesters. However, it does make sure that, should they be surrounded by an angry and destructive mob and fear for their safety, they have the right to flee, even if it causes harm to participants of the said mob.
But the bill also takes smaller instances of public disorder to task because, as we all know, destruction of a public place or venue doesn’t just happen when a large and angry crowd enters it. All too often as of late, it’s just a few unruly individuals who choose to ruin an establishment’s night and business.
The bill now makes it a first-degree misdemeanor to “harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.”
So if you choose not to wear a mask in a public setting, it will now be illegal for someone to harass or intimidate you about it or any other reason.
As DeSantis says, “This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of safeguarding every Floridian’s constitutional right to peacefully assemble while ensuring that those who hide behind peaceful protest to cause violence in our communities will be punished.”
DeSantis and those who support the bill make it clear that they don’t have a problem with protesting or demonstrating their opinions on our laws. However, there is a right and wrong way to do it.
History proves that the right way is done with true peace, as Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahatma Gandhi exhibited. It wasn’t the violence of large crowds or the burning of buildings that forced a change in American civil rights or India’s independence. It was the voice of the people.
And in Florida, that voice will be the only one heard.