Nikki Fried, Democrats, activists slam anti-riot bill passage in House
Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried slammed HB 1 Friday.

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Democrats decry the bill as crushing free speech.

Democrats, including the only one elected statewide, are furious over House passage of a bill (HB 1) cracking down on protesters.

Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a potential 2022 candidate for Governor, slammed the legislation as evidence of misplaced priorities among the majority party.

“Today’s debate of HB 1 shows the unintended consequences of a bill for which no Floridian asked. We’re told this is a bill that we should unite behind — which makes me wonder if we’re all reading the same bill,” Fried asserted.

“We can unite behind protecting the rights of free speech — that’s not what this bill does. We can unite behind reforming the criminal justice system that rehabilitates instead of exploits — that’s not what this bill does. We can unite behind our local governments in protecting the health, safety, and well-being of their communities — that’s not what this bill does. We can unite behind valuing human life over property — again, that’s not what this bill does, but rather the opposite.”

“Floridians have asked for the bare minimum from their government: to help the unemployed, the sick, the hungry, and the disenfranchised. But as one lawmaker stated, this Legislature is hard of hearing,” Fried continued. “There are numerous bills that meet the people’s needs, but they languish without a hearing. The majority doesn’t have the courage to face the truth of where we are and where we need to be, with Floridians’ lives and livelihoods left to suffer the consequences.”

Rep. Kamia Brown contended that it’s “up to the Florida Senate now to stop this unconstitutional bill from becoming law.”

Groups active on the issue likewise castigated House passage of the legislation.

Carrie Boyd, policy counsel for the SPLC Action Fund, predicted a “chilling effect on protests everywhere, regardless of the content of that protest.”

“Sadly, HB 1 takes us back to a time when standing up for what is right requires you to be under the constant threat of arrest. Government trampling on Free Speech rights wasn’t okay when Martin Luther King Jr. was leading protests and it’s not okay today. Protesters ought to be protected, not arrested. And local governments should be trusted to make decisions that are best for their constituents. We urge the Florida Senate to reject this unconstitutional bill,” Boyd added.

Kara Gross, legislative director and senior policy counsel for the ACLU of Florida, said the legislation was “completely unnecessary.”

“This bill is not about preventing violence; it is about protecting the status quo. If it becomes law, this legislation will silence dissent and infringe upon the public’s First Amendment right to peacefully protest and assemble,” Gross said. “Protesters peacefully marching or rallying on any issue will face the threat of criminal prosecution anytime they choose to march in public. Hundreds of people have showed up at the Capitol to oppose this bill, and thousands more have contacted Legislators to urge their opposition. We can only hope the Florida Senate listens to the people because the Florida House ignored them.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has been a correspondent for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. In 2018, he was a finalist for an Association of Alternative Newsweeklies "best political column." He can be reached at [email protected]


7 comments

  • Duane

    March 26, 2021 at 3:28 pm

    Leave it to the Dems to hate a bill that would make a person responsible for their own actions during a violent protest.

  • James Robert Miles

    March 26, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    Leave it to the Republicans to take the right to peaceful protest (which is the U.S. Constitution) away from the people. Next they are working on taking your right to vote away as well. The are fascist authoritarians and are hell bent om turning the U.S. into a fascist state. Look no further than their “dear leader” Trump for all the proof that you need!!

  • Ron Ogden

    March 26, 2021 at 8:16 pm

    Heaving a brick through a storefront window is not speech and setting fires is not peaceful protest. Thank the Lord Republicans, led by Ron DeSantis and Chris Sprowls, are finally showing some backbone and confronting the radical and vicious left who have tortured the language, browbeaten the citizens and resorted to violence when they could not get the attention they crave. We are not going to tolerate violence, destruction and the bullying of hopped up radicals anymore.

    • Ocean Joe

      March 27, 2021 at 8:09 am

      The Democrats in bare control in Washington did not resort to passing new federal laws against rioting after right wingers hopped up on lies about the election (yes, lies, as Sidney Powell now admits as her defense to her unfounded claims about Dominion, that any reasonable person knew she was only kidding about the election) because there are already plenty of laws to deal with folks who throw the American flag like a spear through the windows of the Capitol their cohorts smashed. Florida, too, has legions of laws on the books: burglary, theft, assault, disorderly conduct, criminal mischief, etc. This law, just like the raft of “voting” laws is nothing more than the GOP’s desperate attempt to stay in control. How about winning with issues and ideas instead? Why is even the slightest police reform always radioactive with you guys?
      Your (GOP) riot was caused by people soaked in rightwing propaganda and white supremacy masquerading as patriotism. It cannot be fixed by “outlawing” minority voices. Get busy cleaning your own half of the house.

    • tjb

      March 27, 2021 at 8:47 am

      Ron, you left out the crazed Trumpers that attacked the Capitol on Jan 6. Just a reminder that 5 people died in the Trump riot in DC. If DC had the same law as proposed in HB1, their police would have been able to arrest thousand of Trump followers for committing a felony.
      DeSantis is not showing backbone, he is showing that he wants totalitarianism — just like Karl Marx and Benito Mussolini. – interesting that so many republicans want this form of government that runs contrary to democracy

  • Sonja Fitch

    March 27, 2021 at 5:42 am

    White men are the problem! It doesn’t matter the issue the white men shall always go and do the most punitive remedy for all of the rest of humanity! Sir down and stfu white men!

  • Charlotte Greenbarg

    March 27, 2021 at 7:13 am

    The inane (white men are the problem) and deliberately false comments (The bill takes away the right of peaceful protest) from the far left illustrate the need for the bill.

Comments are closed.


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