Gov. Ron DeSantis‘ proposed legislation targeting violent protestors and the “Defund the Police” movement received national attention Monday when the Governor earned a chance to share his proposal with Tucker Carlson.
The Governor’s plan, a likely flashpoint of the 2021 Legislative Session, would prohibit state grants and aid to local governments that slash law enforcement budgets, a direct counter to the “Defund the Police” movement. Other provisions would create new offenses and increase penalties for violent actions against police officers and passers-by.
DeSantis offered Carlson his five-minute pitch during the Fox primetime slot on “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“Any municipality which defunds the police, which is just an insane policy, it’s like cutting off your nose to spite your face, if you do that, the state government’s going to defund you,” DeSantis said. “We’re not going to be sending you money if you’re doing things like that.”
The Mayor of Minneapolis, he added, had police stand back and abdicated his responsibility, ultimately letting protestors “run amuck.”
While the Governor praised mayors in Florida for how they handled violent protests, he vowed cities and counties could face consequences under the proposed bill.
“If that happens in Florida, we’re waiving sovereign immunity,” DeSantis said. “You can sue the local government for damages for anything that happens to you.”
Similarly, DeSantis criticized how protests were handled in Portland.
“What happens in Oregon, they go in, they get their mug shot taken, and then they’re right back on the street doing the same thing. How is that a deterrent?” DeSantis asked.
Certain violent actions at protests could draw felonies under the proposed bill. Damage to property or injury to people by a group of violent demonstrators would be a third-degree felony, as would obstructing traffic during an unsanctioned or violent protest.
“Do we really want to keep playing whack-a-mole?” DeSantis added. “Once somebody throws a brick at a police officer during one of these demonstrations, and then they have to go immediately to jail, they’re going to stop. They’re not going to do it. If they get away with it, they’re going to continue to do it.”
Destroying public property, including monuments, would be a second-degree felony under the proposal. Participating in a violent or disorderly assembly to harass or intimidate a person at a public accommodation, such as a restaurant, would be a first-degree misdemeanor.
The proposal has “gotten a great response” in Florida, DeSantis said. But Democrats immediately targeted the bill as a political stunt. When asked which critics had spoken up about the measure, the Governor answered that the far left reflexively cried foul.
“Some of the people on the far left, they are just anti-police. They do believe in defunding the police,” DeSantis said. “So when you have me standing in front of all of these sheriffs and police chiefs saying, ‘No, no no, you’re not going to defund the police, we’ll defund you, you’re going to jail if you hurt a police officer,’ really any citizen, they’re basically caught in this position.”
During the morning press conference, the Governor stood beside law enforcement officers and the incoming House Speaker and Senate President, who both voiced complete support for the proposal. Meanwhile, Democratic leaders called the measure the latest step in President Donald Trump‘s reelection bid.
“Everyone running for office in Florida in the House and Senate, they’ve got to take a position on this now,” DeSantis said. “Are you for law enforcement, rule of law, or are you going to stand with the mob? I know where I stand.”
Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran in a tweet praised DeSantis for announcing the campaign. He also encouraged the other 49 states to follow the Governor’s lead.
Already, other Republican governors look like they could be taking the hint. In Texas, Gov. Greg Abbott in a tele-town hall announced that he would introduce tougher laws on rioters on Thursday.
“We’re not going to tolerate rioting or criminal action of any sort, especially the kind that harms individuals or destroys businesses, sets things on fire.”