“Enough is enough” couldn’t be said enough, and one governor got beyond talking points, put it on paper, gave it teeth, and publicized lawful measures whereby the state seeks to defund jurisdictions which defund their police. Energizing that vane, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis also enacted punitive measures for protestors who step across the line of peaceful means and willingly leap into criminality.
Officially dubbed the “Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting, and Law Enforcement Protection Act” —which we’ll refer to as the Law Enforcement Protection Act— is, as indicated by its title, a multi-fold piece of legislation aggregated for one sole objective: To preempt/abate chaos from erupting within Florida’s borders. In other words, for the Sunshine State to not become another Portland or Seattle.
There is a noted emphasis on supporting police entities and their mission to serve/protect law-abiding citizens from the mayhem of malcontents.
Heralding the Law Enforcement Protection Act, the governor’s legislative language delivers mortar to back the badges. Primarily, any of Florida’s sovereign governments which beat the “defund the police” drum can expect to have their state-funded coffers diminished for enabling such a maneuver which invariably equates to lawless locales and undeniable threat to public safety.
In parts, let’s first have a look-see at the principles of police support and criminal justice measures:
- No “Defund the Police” Permitted: Prohibits state grants or aid to any local government.
- Victim Compensation: Waives sovereign immunity to allow a victim of a crime related to a violent or disorderly assembly to sue local government for damages where the local government is grossly negligent in protecting persons and property.
- Government Employment/Benefits: Terminates state benefits and makes anyone ineligible for employment by state/local government if convicted of participating in a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Bail: No bond or bail until first appearance in court if charged with a crime related to participating in a violent or disorderly assembly; rebuttable presumption against bond or bail after first appearance.
When I read and re-read those four tenets I am reminded of the polar-opposite political stance in New York City.
Additionally, the Law Enforcement Protection Act has sights on/consequences for Antifa types:
- Prohibition on Violent or Disorderly Assemblies: 3rd degree felony when 7 or more persons.
- Prohibition on Obstructing Roadways: 3rd degree felony to obstruct traffic during an unpermitted protest, demonstration or violent or disorderly assembly; driver is NOT liable for injury or death caused if fleeing for safety from a mob.
- Prohibition on Destroying or Toppling Monuments: 2nd degree felony to destroy public property during a violent or disorderly assembly.
- Prohibition on Harassment in Public Accommodations: 1st degree misdemeanor for a participant in a violent or disorderly assembly to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant.
- RICO Liability: RICO liability attaches to anyone who organizes or funds a violent or disorderly assembly.
Notice the state legislative language which readily challenges the antithesis we have been seeing in cities such as New York City, Kenosha, Portland, Seattle, Atlanta, Louisville, Rochester, and others. The inclusion of RICO (the bread and butter which enabled the federal government to efficiently dismantle and lock up members of the mafia) is a genius factor; much of the riotous mobs exemplified some form of organization and deserve to be taken down altogether, like one big unhappy family.
Bearing grotesque riotous images in mind, the third part delineates said mobs or individuals thereof and how they wet themselves while boasting street creds born of going up against police officials:
- Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentence: Striking a law enforcement officer (including with a projectile) during a violent or disorderly assembly = 6 months mandatory minimum jail sentence.
- Offense Enhancements: Offense and/or sentence enhancements for: (1) throwing an object during a violent or disorderly assembly that strikes a civilian or law enforcement officer; (2) assault/battery of a law enforcement officer during a violent or disorderly assembly; and (3) participation in a violent or disorderly assembly by an individual from another state.
Surely easy to take solace from that last tidbit, especially after the federal government and state police agencies have noted that, among those arrested for violent/destructive behavior in cities, many participants were from across state lines. Perhaps this will deter unruly troublemaking travelers from elsewhere.
Effectively, the governor prizes protection of all people over the violent-prone “peaceful protesters” and their whims to do whatever they want. The inherent purpose of LEPA seeks not to nominalize protesters but to maximize (ensure) public safety for all by implementing legal consequences for those who have a tendency to go bonkers under the guise of activism—a deterrent to unacceptable (illegal) behavior. Or, as the governor appropriately categorized on Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight,” “violent demonstrations.”
Florida’s governor is correct when he emphasizes elected leaders in certain cities who not only stand down their police forces but also stand attuned as spectators of violent and destructive behaviors, perhaps expecting state grants to help, you know, rebuild the city after the smoke clears.
With all this glorifying and refreshingly sweet legal language and muscle intended to enforce consequences, voices bark about unfairness and the like.
According to a report from WFLA, a spokesperson from the Southern Poverty Law Center took issue with the governor’s anti-violence, anti-rioting, anti-looting, pro-police legislative blueprint. “No one leader of any movement that has organized protests following the rash of murders and public lynchings of black and brown people has advocated for looting and violence,” declared Southern Poverty Law Center representative Bacardi Johnson. Where does one begin to roll out all the footage to the contrary? Several “activists” publicly declared “war on police.” The material of BLM activists who called for killing of LEOs are rife with graphic imagery and laden with obscene language, but this anti-cop spiel in Portland is spared cussing.
One can easily argue against what many would describe as delusion-based commentary.
Governor DeSantis chose to reply with this: “Yea, right. Let me just say, do you think it’s okay to throw a brick at a police officer? Do you think it’s okay to burn down buildings?”
Backing Ms. Johnson’s sensational testimony is additional fantasy from an activist with the Party for Socialism and Liberation, whose rebuttal platform discourages visitors to the Sunshine State, saying, “Travelers may also encounter unjust detention, deportation, racial profiling and even death. It is not safe to travel to the state of Florida.” That speaker resides in Florida, so why does she remain if such glaringly preposterous assertions are accurate?
Have all the violent episodes depicting arsonists burning buildings and anarchists battling police and robberies and assaults and rapes and murders been one horrific nightmare made up in the minds of millions?
In simply understandable fact-based language, Governor DeSantis summed it up this way: “Protest all you want. Knock your socks off. But when it goes into violence, you know, that’s when there has to be accountability.”
Indeed, accountability. Yet it seems to fall on deaf ears. Representing the Poor Minority Justice Association, Dr. Clayton Cowart said, “We feel that what is happening is that rather than the governor and sheriffs addressing the problem they are addressing the reaction. Protesting is a reaction to the problem.” Seems accountability may be a one-way street in the eyes of some. The police are perhaps the biggest scapegoat for others’ bad behavior.
Lest we forget the ACLU: They believe the Florida’s Law Enforcement Protection Act is a threat to First Amendment rights.
Logically, no one should necessarily need reminders of basic civility and the rule of law, but apparently some require a bullhorn blast warning —again and again— and that is what the Law Enforcement Protection Act does. As a cop whose retirement is being spent in Florida, I prefer my state’s tax dollars doled to those who do good things, where law enforcement is expected and respected…something which defunders of police seek to steal with the stroke of a pen.
The governor’s press conference announcing the LEPA transpired Monday, and it’s a fresh perspective for the minds of many, with national application: