DeSantis signs protest bill as controversy continues

Author: Dara Kam/ News Service Florida
Published: Updated:
Credit: via Gov. Ron DeSantis Twitter account.

Flanked by uniformed law-enforcement officers, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Monday signed into law a controversial law-and-order measure sparked by nationwide protests that erupted last year after George Floyd’s death.

The law, which went into effect immediately, creates a new crime of “mob intimidation,” enhances riot-related penalties and makes it harder for local officials to reduce spending on law enforcement.

The measure (HB 1) has been one of the 2021 legislative session’s most contentious issues, with all Republicans but one — Sen. Jeff Brandes, R-St. Petersburg — supporting it and all Democrats opposed.

Watch the signing and remarks below or click here.

At a bill-signing ceremony in Polk County, where he announced the framework for the plan in September, DeSantis boasted that the measure “is the strongest, anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country.”

The law, which also makes it a felony to tear down statues or monuments, includes giving the governor and Florida Cabinet authority to override local officials’ decisions to reduce law enforcement spending.

Under the law, state attorneys and members of governing bodies who object to reducing operational budgets of municipal law enforcement agencies can appeal to the state Administration Commission, made up of the governor, the attorney general, the chief financial officer and the agriculture commissioner.

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