Florida House Speaker Chris Sprowls appeared on Fox News again today to discuss Florida’s new anti-riot legislation, saying “now is the time.”
“This measure is very simple: it’s about protecting our neighborhood, about protecting our communities,” Sprowls said on the Niel Cavuto show Saturday morning.
The newly filed bill, “Combatting Public Disorder” (HB 1/SB 484), would increase penalties for violent protests. The idea for the legislation was introduced by Gov. Ron DeSantis in the summer after protests broke out against police violence in response to the death of George Floyd. However, it was the insurrection at the Capitol Wednesday night that pushed lawmakers to swiftly file the bill.
“The other night when we were watching what was happening on Capitol Hill, we said now is the time,” Sprowls said.
In his appearance, Sprowls alluded to the events over summer.
“We’re not going to tolerate people burning our businesses or terrorizing our communities,” Sprowls said. “We’ve seen battery and injury of law enforcement officers over the summer. Those criminal penalties will be elevated.”
The bill includes strict punishments for rioters. It would will crack down on battery, assault or inciting a riot. It would also require a person arrested for unlawful assembly to be held in custody until their first appearance.
“It punishes the behaviors you saw on television the other night — a group of people getting together, being violent, destroying property, injuring police officers,” Sprowls said. “This kind of behavior will not be tolerated in Florida.”
The bill faces strong opposition from Democrats, and legal challenges are expected when DeSantis inevitably signs the legislation. Critics argue it would violate protesters’ right to assembly and free speech under the First Amendment.