Gov. Ron DeSantis has moved to expand the state’s Stand Your Ground Law and give armed citizens the green light to shoot and potentially kill anyone they suspect of looting businesses. His “anti-mob” legislation sparked outcry from critics who called it dangerous, ‘clearly political’ and would allow armed citizens to shoot and potentially kill anyone they suspect of looting, Fox News reports.
DeSantis’ legislation comes in response to a spread of riots and looting in Florida and nationwide this summer following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died while being detained by a white Minneapolis police officer.
The legislation is an attempt to prevent “violent and disorderly assemblies” by permitting violence against anyone involved in the “interruption or impairment” of a business, reportedly described in the draft as being a burglary within 500 feet of “violent or disorderly assembly,” according to reporting by the Miami Herald Tuesday.
“It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions,” a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor, Denise Georges, who has worked with Stand Your Ground cases told the Miami publication. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”
The legislation also includes acts that would make protesting, which disrupts the public by blocking traffic, a third degree felony. The draft legislation would also grant immunity to drivers who unintentionally kill or injure protesters who were blocking traffic.
Additionally the law would allow the state to withhold funds from local governments that cut police budgets, according to Fox News.
DeSantis, an ardent supporter of President Trump, who won in Florida by just over three points, pledged in September to crack down on the ‘violent and disorderly assemblies’ that occured. He reportedly submitted copies of the legislation to the state’s Senate Committee on Criminal Justice and the House Judiciary Committee, according to emails obtained by the Miami Herald, Fox News reported.