Polk County, Florida Sheriff warns rioters in respond to the ‘anti-riot’-act

VIDEOKINGS — Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved a bill he says will curb violence and property damage during protests. It’s a response to last summer’s protests following the death of George Floyd and calls to defund the police. DeSantis signed off on the measure Monday at a press conference in Polk County — the same place where he first introduced the proposal seven months ago.

DeSantis was flanked by local law enforcement, House Speaker Chris Sprowls, and Senate President Wilton Simpson — the same group who stood by him in September when he introduced his public disorder bill.

“We had a bold vision,” DeSantis said during his press conference Monday. “We worked with President Wilton Simpson, and Speaker Chris Sprowls to get it done and we’re here today to sign this bill into law.”

“And it is the strongest anti-rioting pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country,” DeSantis said. “There’s nothing even close.”

The new law creates crimes such as mob intimidation, cyber intimidation and defacing monuments. It increases penalties for crimes that happen during protests — such as attacks on police and property. It also creates civil fines for blocking roadways, and sets up a process to challenge local government decisions that result in decreased funding for law enforcement.

Polk Sheriff Grady Judd has backed the bill since its introduction. During the press conference he showed two photos — one depicting a crowd of people marching down a street carrying signs; the other, of a person in silhouette standing in front of a fire.

“I want to make sure everyone knows, this is a peaceful protest,” Judd said of the image of people marching down a street. ” We encourage it. It’s the foundation of our country. And we want people to peacefully protest when they feel the need.”

Of the second image, with the fire, Judd said, “This is a riot. And this will get you locked up before quick in the state of Florida. Pay attention. We’ve got a new law. And we will use it if you make us.”

Watch on YouTube: Polk County, Florida Sheriff warns rioters in respond to the ‘anti-riot’-act

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