Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis unveiled legislation on Monday that would increase penalties for violent rioters as his state, yet again, looks to be one of the key battlegrounds in the coming presidential election.
“We’re not going to go down the road that other places have gone,” DeSantis said, according to Politico.
“If you do it, and you know that a ton of bricks will rain down on you, then I think people will think twice about engaging in this type of conduct,” he added.
The bill would provide mandatory six-month jail sentence for those who hit law enforcement officers.
It also would permit felony charges against protesters who damage property—including monuments—or injure others.
Moreover, it would prevent violent rioters from being employed by the state or receiving state benefits.
Anyone arrested during the protests would not be eligible for bail before their initial court hearing, and anyone convicted from outside Florida would receive extra penalties under the new law.
The bill also includes a provision that any municipality that tries to defund the police will not receive state funding.
“This is a very robust package,” the governor said. “I think what it is saying is we’re not going to let Florida go down the road where some of these places have gone.”
The bill now heads to Florida’s Republican-controlled state legislature and will be taken up during its 2021 session.
State Senate President-elect Wilton Simpson said this week that it will pass easily.
“If you own a business and someone is looting your business, you’re going to call law enforcement,” he said. “They deserve the backing to the fullest extent of the law.”
Other Republican-controlled parts of the country have passed similar penalties to prevent the sort of chaos that has consumed liberal cities like Portland, Seattle and New York City from spreading.
In Salt Lake City, for example, city officials charged protesters with “gang enhancement” for smashing the windows of the district attorney’s building and painting a road.
Because of these enhanced charges, the protesters could face up to life in prison.