Measure would embolden the disparate police treatment toward Black and brown Floridians who are exercising their right to protest

MIAMI, FL —  Earlier this week, Florida state legislators filed legislation purportedly designed to combat riots. The legislation was originally proposed last September by Gov. Ron DeSantis in response to statewide protests in Florida demanding police accountability and transparency. In practice, the bill would silence, criminalize, and penalize Black and brown Floridians and their allies for exercising  their legitimate First Amendment rights, and it would preempt local governments from determining how to allocate funding to address critical needs in their local communities.

Micah Kubic, executive director of the ACLU of Florida, responded with the following: 

“We are not fooled. We’re old enough to remember this bill was proposed as a direct political response to last year’s nationwide protests calling for an end to racialized violence and police brutality that disparately harms Black people. The single intent of this bill is to protect white supremacy by silencing and criminalizing Black protesters and allies who exercise their First Amendment rights in the pursuit of racial justice. Law enforcement already has all the tools they need at their disposal to protect public safety and prevent violence and property damage. The problem lies in how they have been selectively choosing to use these tools. More draconian tools will not make us safer. 

“But this is not an attempt to make our communities safer. This proposed legislation by DeSantis was nothing more than a campaign political stunt. Now, it is being disguised as a response to the failed violent coup at the U.S. Capitol. And, it is just as unconstitutional. 

“This bill is designed to embolden the disparate police treatment we have seen over and over again directed towards Black and brown people who are exercising their constitutional right to protest. This bill will silence dissent, and push the relentless disparities of our state's broken justice system to new extremes.

“We will call this for what it is—a cruel political stunt. One that reckons the question: if yesterday’s attempted coup had happened here, would Ron DeSantis be prepared to charge Trump with crimes?  If the answer is no, that tells us all we need to know.”