Ron DeSantis attorneys don’t want to participate in court-ordered mediation over protest law
Image via Colin Hackley.

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DeSantis' attorneys said mediation won't be productive.

Attorneys for Gov. Ron DeSantis say they are too far apart from those challenging DeSantis’ priority protest law for court-ordered mediation to be “worthwhile.”

Several groups who filed the lawsuit, including the Dream Defenders and the Florida State Conference of the NAACP, contend the “Combating Public Disorder Act” (HB 1) will have a “chilling” effect on protected speech and violates equal-protection and due process rights.

Attorneys for Attorney General Ashley Moody and DeSantis, in a motion filed Tuesday, said mediation, ordered by Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker to begin by Nov. 12 and completed by Nov. 26, won’t be productive.

“The only relief plaintiffs seek is a declaration that the act, or portions thereof, are unconstitutional and enjoinder of its enforcement. No monetary damages are sought,” the state’s attorneys wrote in the three-page motion. “Mediation cannot result in any negotiated relief to plaintiffs because they seek to strike statutes enacted by the Florida Legislature which the parties have no legal authority to agree are unconstitutional.”

Mediation would not be “a worthwhile use of the parties’ or the court’s resources,” the state’s attorneys also argued.

Walker will now rule on that motion.

The controversial new “anti-riot” law, arguably a centerpiece of DeSantis’ legislative agenda this past Session has sparked much controversy leading to multiple lawsuits.

The new law creates increased penalties and new crimes, such as “mob intimidation,” for people who participate in violent protests. It also could help shield people from civil liability if they injure or kill protesters involved in riots — an issue known as granting an affirmative defense.

This lawsuit argues, in part, that the measure is over-broad, vague and “subjects non-violent protesters to criminal liability for exercising protected rights to speech and assembly.”

As an example, the lawsuit says peaceful protesters at demonstrations could face criminal charges if they are in “close proximity to an act of violence or property destruction in which they themselves do not participate.”

“Because (a section of the law) confers discretion to law enforcement to arrest nonviolent protesters in close proximity to a violent outburst that is caused by others, would-be protesters have already been and will continue to be discouraged from participating in demonstrations for fear that the intents and actions of others may subject them to severe criminal penalties,” the lawsuit reads.

A motion from state lawyers seeking to dismiss the case said the measure does not curb free-speech rights of peaceful protesters.

“The act does not discourage, much less prohibit, any person from peacefully assembling, demonstrating, or speaking on any issue,” a brief filed last month by DeSantis’ legal team said. “The act does not even apply to peaceful demonstrations or forms of expression. Rather, it outlaws people coming together, regardless of their motivation, to commit violence, damage property, or intimidate others into assuming or abandoning a viewpoint against their will. Prohibiting violence and destruction does not restrict constitutionally protected expression — only dangerous, unlawful behavior.”

But the lawsuit’s plaintiffs also contend the measure violates equal-protection rights because it “targets Black organizers and organizations. The text, legislative history, timing, and public statements about the act made by Florida officials all make clear that the act was racially motivated.”

DeSantis first called for the legislation in September 2020 after some protests over the death of George Floyd turned violent. Floyd was a Black man killed when a White Minneapolis police officer placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.

The bill was unveiled on January 6 after Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol.

A separate pending lawsuit was filed April 21 in Orlando.

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Reporting from News Service of Florida was used in this article and republished with permission.

Haley Brown

Haley Brown covers state government for FloridaPolitics.com. Previously, Haley covered the West Virginia Legislature and anchored weekend newscasts for WVVA in Bluefield, W.Va. Haley is a Florida native and a graduate of the University of Florida. You can reach her at [email protected]


10 comments

  • Ron Ogden

    July 14, 2021 at 11:10 am

    “But the lawsuit’s plaintiffs also contend the measure violates equal-protection rights because it “targets Black organizers and organizations.”
    What about white organizers and organizations? Once more, the left relates it all to race. The left lives and breathes race. It dominates their debates and controls their agenda. Why? Because the left seeks conflict, and race is one of the easiest things to fight about.

    • Tjb

      July 14, 2021 at 11:32 am

      BS on you Ron. We all new know that DeSantis is a closet racist, playing to the part of his base that supports him, You know if the protesters were Black Lives Matter folks, DeSantis would be demanding that law enforcement to arrest and lock up all protesters that don’t agree with his views and policies regardless of their race.

      • Jmjtusa

        July 14, 2021 at 1:49 pm

        ‘We all new know that DeSantis is a closet racist’..
        Y’all so much in the know…
        ….. Just brand anyone who disagrees wif you as racist, etc… Get over yourself

        • Tjb

          July 14, 2021 at 5:46 pm

          I can also brand people as naive, ill informed or just plain stupid. .

      • zhombre

        July 14, 2021 at 4:12 pm

        The law has just been applied to anti-commie Cuban demonstrators in Tampa. DeSantis is not a close racist; the allegation is absurd and spurious. BS on YOU, Tjb (total jerk & bitch). You’re an out of the closet moron, for sure.

        • Tjb

          July 14, 2021 at 5:44 pm

          Zhombre, you are so cleaver with your name calling. I would take your comment seriously if I had any respect for you. Also, the law demonstrates there is too much subjectivity on it is how it enforced.

          • zhombre

            July 14, 2021 at 6:46 pm

            I would take your comments seriously if I had any respect for you and I would have respect for you if your comments weren’t boilerplate lefty drivel. Completely devoid of any ‘cleaverness’ BTW.

        • Tjb

          July 15, 2021 at 10:17 am

          Zhombre, I regret that I called DeSantis a closet racist. I stand corrected. I should have stated that he is a racist that wants to be a dictator. If you don’t understand my comment, as you name implies … you are a brain dead zombie.

  • Jmjtusa

    July 14, 2021 at 1:46 pm

    OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion…
    Should be the moniker in most, if not all of Florida (Biased & B*llsh*t) Politics postings..

  • Tom J.

    July 14, 2021 at 6:56 pm

    If a law like this was on the books in Washington D.C. on January 6th, all those innocent protesters who did not enter the halls of congress would be declared just as guilty as those who did. Imagine that.

Comments are closed.


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