Florida introducing new laws allowing citizens to shoot ‘looters and rioters’

‘This law will put already at-risk young people in even greater danger at the worst possible time’, Planned Parenthood says
‘This law will put already at-risk young people in even greater danger at the worst possible time’, Planned Parenthood says

Florida governor Ron DeSantis has drafted "anti-mob" legislation to include looting in expanded “Stand Your Ground” laws that would increase protections for a shooting defence to riots.

The push to expand self-defence laws comes after civil unrest erupted across the United States and Florida over the summer in the lead up to the presidential election.

It would add looting the list of "forcible felonies" to justify the use of force against people who commit a burglary within 500 feet of violent or disorderly assembly, according to the "anti-mob legislation draft" obtained by The Miami Herald under a public records request.

“It allows for vigilantes to justify their actions,” a former Miami-Dade County prosecutor, Denise Georges, who has worked with Stand Your Ground cases told the Herald. “It also allows for death to be the punishment for a property crime — and that is cruel and unusual punishment. We cannot live in a lawless society where taking a life is done so casually and recklessly.”

Mr DeSantis, who did immediately respond to The Independent's request for comment, pledged in September to crack down on violent and disorderly assemblies in response to violent unrest across the country.

"You see videos of these innocent people eating dinner and you have these crazed lunatics just screaming at them and intimidating them on a public accommodation," DeSantis said during a press conference at the time. "You aren't going to do that in the state of Florida."

The Republican governor's crackdown on violence and civil unrest was seen as an attempt in the lead up to the presidential election to help Donald Trump in Florida, which the president won comfortably in part due to strong support from Latino voters.

The draft legislation would withhold state funding from local governments that "defund the police" by cutting law enforcement budgets while also enhancing criminal penalties for people in "violent or disorderly assemblies".

It would also make blocking traffic a third-degree felony while offering immunity to drivers who unintentionally kill or injure protesters blocking traffic, according to draft legislation.

"A motor vehicle operator who unintentionally causes injury or death to a person who obstructs or interferes with the regular flow of vehicular traffic in violation of subsection (1) or (2) is not liable for such injury or death," it says.

The proposed law remains in draft form and could not be considered until the 2021 legislative session at the earliest.

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