Several Republicans are taking action to protect their communities from violent riots in light of the past year’s unrest and prospects of more devastation ahead pending the verdict of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the George Floyd murder trial.
A Minnesota state lawmaker introduced a bill this week that would strip convicted rioters of access to government programs, including food stamps, student loans and healthcare.
Republican state. Sen. David Osmek argued the legislation is necessary because of the violence that has become commonplace in Minnesota’s communities ever since the death of Floyd last May while in police custody.
Those tensions flared again after the accidental police shooting of Daunte Wright last week.
If the bill passes, it would make sure rioters convicted were not eligible “for any type of state loan, grant, or assistance, including but not limited to college student loans and grants, rent and mortgage assistance, supplemental nutrition assistance, unemployment benefits and other employment assistance, Minnesota supplemental aid programs, business grants, medical assistance, general assistance, and energy assistance.”
The legislation is unlikely to succeed since Democrats control both Minnesota’s House of Representatives and the governorship.
Down in Florida, however, where Republicans control the state government, Gov. Ron DeSantis recently signed into law a bill that cracks down on riots and prevents localities from defunding their police departments.
The “anti-riot” bill is aimed at “combating public disorder,” according to DeSantis, and was written in response to the violent protests that took place around the country last summer.
The law takes effect immediately and increases the charge for battery on a police officer during a riot and increases penalties for protesters who block roadways or deface public monuments.
The law also creates a new felony crime of “aggravated rioting” that carries a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and a new crime of “mob intimidation.”
“If you look at the breadth of this particular piece of legislation, it is the strongest anti-rioting, pro-law enforcement piece of legislation in the country,” DeSantis said at a press conference this week. “There’s just nothing even close.”