Recently I covered this topic in a Q&A as the legislation was making its way through the state legislature. Now that HB 1 is law in Florida it’s worth a closer look at what’s really in the new law which is often glossed over when it’s discussed. There are four key provisions of the law. The first is that it discourages local governments from intentionally “defunding police” or ordering them to stand down during a riot.
Second, it defines a riot as an act of violence committed by a gathering of three or more people assembled for a common cause. Third, violence is defined as property destruction, threats of harm to others, or the physical harm of others. Lastly, a more serious charge of an “aggravated riot” would occur if more than nine people are involved in the riot with damage exceeding $5,000.
Under the new law, if local law enforcement agencies feel they’re being targeted for budget cuts due to non-economic factors, they’ll have the ability to challenge the decision. In the event local governments allow for riots to occur, they’ll be held responsible for the damage and all related costs. And that takes us to the clearly defined instances of riotous behavior.
As we’ve witnessed over the past year, there’s been a politically correct narrative to attempt to paint many riots as protests. This effort became so bizarre the term “peaceful protest” became a thing. A term that illustrates the absurdity, as it’s redundant. Protests are inherently peaceful. Riots are what occur when there’s violence.
As cited, riots are now defined as three or more congregated individuals threatening violence and/or engaging in violence. There are escalators in penalties when nine or more people are involved and again with 25 or more. These clearly defined guidelines take ambiguity and political correctness out of the equation for local officials and law enforcement while holding local governments financially accountable for their decisions.
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